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Students respond to Pakistani earthquake

By : By Rachel Coker

Like millions of others around the world, Hamza Mahmood and his friends were horrified by news of the Oct. 8 earthquake in Pakistan. Unlike many others, however, this group of Binghamton University students decided to do something to help.

Mahmood, who grew up in Pakistan, was inspired to make a video about his homeland and its struggles to recover from the quake. It features family photos as well as news images of the disaster and its aftermath. Interspersed with the pictures are stark, white-on black screens with information about the country and its struggle to recover from the earthquake.

“It doesn’t do any justice to the way I feel inside,” Mahmood said of the powerfully emotional video.

Mahmood, 20, is majoring in economics with minors in French and Arabic. His family moved to the United States in 2001 and this is the first video he ever created.

Teaming with a core group of six other students, Mahmood uses the presentation to raise awareness of the disaster and collect donations. The video, which has been shown at tables in the University Union and to entire classes, has helped to raise more than $4,000 for relief efforts already.

Imran Battla and Hina Ahmed both grew up in the United States but have extended family in Pakistan. Ahmed said she has been struck by how little students know about the earthquake and its survivors.

“These people already don’t have the resources that we do,” she said. “They don’t have a Superdome to go to.”

Ahmed and Mahmood said students have been eager to help once they understand the severity of the earthquake, which killed at least 74,000 and left 3.3 million homeless. She understands that it can be hard for people to recognize what needs to be done when they don’t have a personal connection to Pakistan.

“When you talk to relatives, you get a perspective that you don’t see on the news,” said Ahmed, 20, a sophomore majoring in psychobiology. “They thought the world was coming to an end.” Battla, a 23 year-old senior majoring in human development, will go to Pakistan this month to aid in relief efforts. His family is from the affected region and he feels a strong cultural bond with the earthquake survivors.

Mahmood noted that the country is beginning the winter without shelter for those who need it and without even basic transportation routes. “Right now,” he said, “we are at the corner of another disaster.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08