The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Milwaukee, MU rally for Pakistan flood relief

Several Marquette student organizations are working to improve the situation in Pakistan. Photo by Cy Kondrick/[email protected]

This past summer, Pakistan suffered from a flood that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deemed “the worst disaster (he) had ever seen.”

Grassroots efforts to relieve the country of its $9.5 billion in estimated damage have been emerging across the United States in the past few months, including a student-led initiative at Marquette.

Members of the Muslim Student Association, the Indian Student Association, the Bayanihan Student Organization, and the United Nations Student Alliance have set a collaborative goal to raise more than $8,000 for the flood relief.

The groups would be able to meet that number if all of Marquette’s undergraduate students gave $1 to the effort.

Lillian Figg-Franzoi, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she and a group of eight other students decided to help early in October when she heard about a similar initiative at Northwestern University.

Figg-Franzoi said she is motivated by the scope of the disaster, which the Pakistani government estimated left 21 million Pakistanis affected and 1 million homes damaged or destroyed.

Martha Mahmoud, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said the support at Marquette so far has been “encouraging.” Mahmoud and Figg-Franzoi were collecting donations outside of Raynor Library Sunday afternoon.

Recent reports by the nonprofit group Islamic Relief USA have indicated that the floods have left more than 1,750 people dead, and 8 million people are currently at risk of contracting diseases due to unsanitary conditions.

In addition, 12 million people currently need emergency food rations, and more than 10,000 schools are in need of repair. These statistics are according to the group’s Nov. 5 report.

According to a U.S. State Dept. press release, the U.S. government is providing about $463 million to “assist with relief and recovery efforts” to Pakistan.

The money raised at Marquette will add to the $24.8 million raised in the private sector in America for the flood-ravaged country.

Though aid has been pouring in to Pakistan since the flood, Figg-Franzoi said she was surprised by the lack of media attention this disaster has received in comparison to other international disasters.

The Haitian earthquake in January and the Chilean earthquake in February both registered higher, yet the Pakistan flood affected more than the Haiti quake, the 2004 Asia tsunami, and the 2005 Pakistan quake combined.

“It is unfortunate that the political tension that previously existed between the United States and Pakistan has forced this important issue out of the spotlight in news and media attention,” Figg-Franzoi said.

Zahra Ismail, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, got involved with the group because of her roots in Pakistan. Both of her parents are originally from Pakistan and she said she has several relatives who live there.

“Thankfully none of them were directly affected by the flood,” Ismail said.

Figg-Franzoi said the group has fundraised in various ways. Besides having professionals give temporary henna tattoos and holding donation tables, the group also plans a Pakistan Arts Night on Dec. 9.

There, students will be invited “to perform, show their solidarity and help us raise money from our attending audience,” she said.

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