Harvard students raise $32,000 for Pakistan – Harvard Gazette

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About 30 undergraduate and graduate students hastily gathered in the Leverett Junior Common Room a month ago when a catastrophic monsoon flood hit Pakistan. Many were from the Harvard College Pakistani Students Association. Some were local; others had family there. Of course, the students decided to raise funds, but they also wanted to create real awareness.

“The idea was basically to make sure this wasn’t one of those typical social media fundraisers where people donate on Instagram and stop thinking about it,” said Asmer Safi ’24, who is from Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city. originates . “A big part of that was also creating a sense of urgency on campus. … We really chose to look people in the eye and be more specific in the way we address our audiences.”

The strategy has proven itself so far. To date, they have raised more than $32,000 in relief funds, which went to five Pakistani NGOs that are providing victims with meals, shelter, toiletries and more. Additionally, the effort has helped attract other South Asian organizations at Harvard and other schools to mobilize and provide assistance.

Your help is urgently needed. The disaster, which experts say is likely to be linked to climate change, has submerged about a third of Pakistan. The death toll has exceeded 1,600 and millions more have been displaced. Damage was estimated at $30 billion as violent waves swept away streets, homes, schools and hospitals across the region.

“We’ve had cases of big floods, but never this big,” Safi said. “Some of my friends, their entire villages have been completely submerged in water.”

“What is happening in Pakistan right now is a call for all of us to put our humanity into action,” said Iqra Noor ’23, who lived in Pakistan for 10 years and is an adviser to the HCPSA board. “The past few weeks of this campaign have shown us that we have the privilege and the platform to at least raise awareness and the means, and that within each of us there is the power to make a difference.”

Founded in 2011, the HCPSA has focused its efforts on campus spaces that serve as meeting places. Members of the group have visited all student dining halls with a 12-foot banner announcing that a third of the country has been flooded. The bold ad immediately draws attention. Then a student gives a speech about the devastation and asks for donations via a flyer with a QR code. The group says many students approach them and admit they were completely unaware of the situation.

“[The flooding] it doesn’t get much coverage in Western media at first, so not many people know about it,” Safi said. “Then, with the Queen’s death and a lot of things happening at the same time, all that information gets drowned out.”

In the past few weeks, students have been able to collect between 1,500 and 2,000 dollars by visiting the canteen, which they used to do three times a week.

The club has also targeted scheduled campus events for similar visits and solicitations for donations, often in partnership with organizers. “We created this entire database of all events that took place on campus and sent representatives to many or asked people to make the announcement on our behalf,” Safi said.

For example, when Pakistani singer and Harvard alumnus Ali Sethi visited the Sanders Theater for a concert in mid-September, the group coordinated with Lakshmi Mittal and Harvard’s Family South Asia Institute to insert a plug for the fundraiser.

“It was heartbreaking to watch the unfolding disaster in Pakistan, but it was also reassuring to see the Harvard community, particularly student groups from across South Asia, come together in solidarity and support for the country’s reconstruction and recovery efforts,” said he Tarun Khanna, director of the institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School. “A big compliment to them for quickly taking the lead here.”

About 33 million were affected by the floods. The National Disaster Management Agency estimates more than half a million homes have been destroyed and the IRC, a prominent international aid agency, has raised fears of impending food shortages in Pakistan due to severe crop failures.

The disaster has sparked discussions in the classroom about the impact of climate change. Harvard professor Daniel Schrag invited Hamza Haroon, MPA ’22, a former special adviser to the Ministry of Science and Technology and climate advocate, of the class from Pakistan as someone, to his general education course, Confronting Climate Change: A Foundation in Science, Technology, and Policy to report on the front lines of the disaster.

In addition to the South Asia Institute, other organizations have joined the HCPSA’s fundraiser, including Harvard Ghungroo, Harvard College’s Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Harvard Pakistan Caucus, and the South Asia Caucus at Harvard Kennedy School. Nearly 60 groups across campus have allowed the HCPSA to distribute flyers for donations at after-school fairs and make announcements at events or meetings.

Pakistani groups at other universities have also approached the HCPSA to learn how they can mobilize similar efforts.

“It really helped us to understand that we can really reframe narratives and create a sense of urgency about issues, even if it starts with just 30, 35 students,” Safi said. “We can all really, really, really make a difference.”

If your organization is interested in joining the effort, please email [email protected] Visit to donate: https://linktr.ee/hcpsafloodrelief.

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