Earthquake relief

Heath Gordon

Senior Daniyal Noorani has been asking students to donate meals to aid the victims of an extremely destructive earthquake that occurred in Pakistan Oct. 8.
According to BBC Online, the Eurasian and Austrian-Indian tectonic plates rubbed together 60 miles north of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, causing a magnitude 7.6 earthquake. Many recent estimates have put the death toll near 80,000, with the bulk of casualties in the Pakistan-controlled region of Kashmir. Because of the mountainous terrain and poor roads, officials are finding it increasingly more difficult to bring aid to the region.
Shortly after the earthquake, Noorani was tabling at Downer, soliciting students to donate some of their extra meal credits. For the donations, Downer will give Noorani the money that would have been spent on the meal, which he will then send to the World Food Programme.
Since the disaster, several countries have come to the aid of Pakistan, with the United States donating $50 million, and the UN seeking to raise $272 million. So far almost $620 million has been promised in aid; however, rough estimates place the total cost of rebuilding to be near $5 billion.
Here on campus, Noorani’s own efforts have been successful, though he has since ceased tabling because he felt that he had “maxed out” Downer regulars. At this point, Noorani has collected meals from between 250 and 300 students who have donated approximately 3,000 meals.
“The best way we can help is to collect funds,” Noorani remarked. Unlike the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, it might not be as useful to mail food, water, and clothing to Pakistan. In addition, the currency exchange rate with Pakistani rupees is particularly favorable right now, so there is a much better return on the dollar by sending the funds directly to Pakistan. In this case, funds can go a very long way. Ten American dollars, when transferred to Pakistan, can buy roughly 500 bowls of rice. So if one student donates two Downer meals, this provides enough food for a small village for one day.
However, food is not the most important commodity in this situation. The scale of the disaster is so large that the main problem arises from many officials not knowing where to send the aid. One of the most urgent things is getting shelter for the earthquake victims as soon as possible. The areas worst hit by the earthquake were in mountainous regions, where in some areas snow has already begun to fall and tents are severely lacking. An official in the International Office for Migration reports that a further 200,000 tents are needed to effectively house the victims.
For his part, Noorani is very thankful that Downer has given him the opportunity to turn meals into aid. Although he has stopped tabling at Downer, Noorani says there is still time to act. His goal is that every student will donate at least one meal. This is definitely a case where a little goes a long way.
If you would like to donate meals, e-mail, including your Lawrence ID number and the number of meals you wish to donate (up to three).