Naureen Aqueel

Flood crisis brings out the best in Pakistani youth

Posted on: August 17, 2010

Published in The Express Tribune – web, August 17, 2010.

Floods have wreaked the worst devastation across Pakistan, but they have also brought out the best in Pakistani youth, both in the country and those abroad.

While youth across the country have risen to collect donations and pack and dispatch relief supplies to the flood affected areas, Pakistani students abroad have also stepped up efforts to make it known that although oceans apart, they are there when their country needs them.

Pakistan Graduates Students Association (PGSA) at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign is one such organisation. A purely student run organisation working independently from other Pakistani student organisations in the US, PGSA has partnered with Islamic Relief USA, to help the victims of the floods. Student volunteers collect donations from door-to-door drives and arrange fundraising dinners that invite affluent members of the Pakistani community in Urbana-Champaign, professionals, corporate organisations, faculty members and students to donate generously for the cause.

The organisation plans to collect close to $40,000 from the fundraising dinner that is being organised for flood victims on August 21. Volunteers have already collected $2000 from a separate drive at a mosque.

PGSA has previously raised funds for the 2005 Earthquake relief and for internally displaced persons (IDPs). It helped raise $30,000 for Swat IDPs working in collaboration with Islamic Relief. The organisation has also worked with Shahzad Roy from Zindagi Trust and helped raise $35,000 for Zindagi Trust schools in Pakistan. The students’ organisation was also recently recognised by the Champaign-Urbana community and awarded the CU Humanitarian Award.

“Most of our students are able to manage these activities alongside their studies,” Rajesh K Karmani, President of PGSA told The Express Tribune. “The students are very driven and motivated themselves as many have been directly affected by the floods since their relatives or acquaintances have been affected.”

Preparations for the fundraiser on Aug 21 have been made and members of PGSA are hopeful that they will be able to raise the amount they have targeted.

“PGSA represents a microcosm of the Pakistani society,” said Karmani. “We see the same conflicts we see in our society, but we always overcome those conflicts and work for the benefit of our country. Herein lies an example for Pakistan.”

Muslim Students Organisation steps up to help

Another international students organisation working for the relief of Pakistani flood victims is the Muslim Students Association at Columbia University in New York. The organisation has raised about $15000 from various fundraising and door-to-door drives in Muslim communities, mosques and Churches in New York city.

Students of the Muslim Students Association managed to raise these funds despite the fact that schools were closed for the summers. The organisation now plans to donate the funds collected to the Rural Support Programme and the armed forces of Pakistan and to air ship the goods collected to the affected areas.

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