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UAlbany's Muslim Students Association is on a Mission to Help Pakistan's Flood Victims

From left, Muslim Students Association officers Junaid Maqsood, vice president; Bibi Yasin, president; and Ashraf Khater, secretary. Not shown: Kamilla Hussein, treasurer. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 03, 2011) -- Members of UAlbany's Muslim Students Association (MSA) represent a dozen countries around the globe, but they have all rallied around one critical mission -- to relieve the suffering of Pakistan's flood victims. An estimated 20 million people were affected at the height of the disaster last year, with some six million left homeless. Despite the fact that recovery and rebuilding efforts are under way, many Pakistani families are still suffering from food shortages and inadequate sanitation facilities.

From left, Junaid Maqsood, Bibi Yasin, and Ashraf Khater

The Muslim Students Association is organizing a fund-raising dinner on March 22 to alleviate the suffering of Pakistan's flood victims. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

MSA is working to heighten awareness of ongoing needs as it spearheads fund-raising efforts to help the flood victims.

"It is somewhat shocking that the people of Pakistan did not get as much media support as they should have for a disaster of such magnitude," said Bibi Yasin, MSA president.

MSA has organized a fund-raising dinner on March 22 at 6:45 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom, to which all are invited. The event will be co-hosted by other campus student organizations, including Third World Impact, Fuerza Latina, and the Pakistani Student Association. For more information on how to donate, contact Waleed Gabr of Islamic Relief.

MSA held a similar dinner last fall with the assistance of Gabr. The students collected more than $13,000 for Islamic Relief USA's aid efforts to Pakistan.

The dinner was a free event, requiring that attendees bring an item to contribute to emergency supply packages being sent to Pakistan through local mosques. A small fund-raising goal of $2,000 was set, and guests were asked to contribute of their own generosity.

"All of a sudden, we had people pledging all over the place," said Yasin. "People from the larger Muslim community attended as well. It was an amazing outpouring of support." One senior, Salik Rapaport, made a phone call once the pledges had reached $6,000. Over the phone, an anonymous donor made a pledge that raised the total donation to more than $13,000.

"We definitely felt it was our duty to step up and get the story out," said Yasin, a junior raised in the Bronx whose family moved to Guyana from India a century ago. The biochemistry and molecular biology major attended high school in LaGrangeville, N.Y., where she was the only girl in her school wearing a traditional Muslim headscarf. The first thing she noticed upon enrolling at UAlbany was that she was not alone: she saw many more young women wearing headscarves.

"We are from everywhere," she said, noting MSA includes students from Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Turkey, Bangladesh, India, Dubai and Sri Lanka. African-American Muslim students are members, as well.  "The diversity of UAlbany enables us to interact with people on a global level as college students. The mobilization of other student groups to assist in this dinner is quite literally an embodiment of our motto, 'the world within reach.' " 

Raising money to help flood victims is just one of the many ways UAlbany faculty, staff, and students make a World of Difference. To learn more about how UAlbany contributes, visit UAlbany's Community Connections.