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The devastating floods that struck Pakistan in late July and early August have spurred campus-wide efforts to fundraise for the flood victims and simultaneously increase awareness about Pakistan.

Several student groups have come together to form the Pakistan Flood Relief Committee, including Pakistani Students at Brown, the Muslim Students' Association, the South Asian Students Associations from Brown and Rhode Island School of Design and the Brown International Organization.

President Ruth Simmons sent out a campus-wide e-mail on Sept. 8, informing students that responding to the floods in Pakistan would be on the agenda at the Brown University Community Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14. At the meeting, Matthew Gutmann, vice president of international affairs, addressed the council, drawing attention to "the context of tremendous inequality" in which the floods are taking place.

Areebah Ajani '11 and Farrukh Malik '11, co-presidents of Pakistani Students at Brown, addressed the council about the upcoming fundraising and educational events.

Flood relief efforts include a fundraiser on Oct. 1, featuring student talent and the screening of a Brown student's documentary footage of affected regions, Ajani said. The committee hopes to set up an art installation on the Main Green in early October, which will also sell Pakistani crafts and T-shirts to raise money for the victims.

"People always talk about crisis fatigue, but we are trying to make this an opportunity for them to learn and give back in a creative way," Ajani said.

Ajani said that the Flood Relief Committee "wants to get as many students aware of the magnitude of the floods, and also give people and idea of what the country is in its full breadth."

Malik added that door-to-door collections have been launched in residence halls.

The committee is currently screening relief organizations to determine whom they will give the funds to. They are looking for organizations with a long history of working in Pakistan, Ajani said. They are also reaching out to several other departments and groups, collaborating with Pakistani doctors in the New England area, as well as the Brown women's basketball team.

Their first event is a teach-in on Sept. 24, spearheaded by Vazira Zamindar, associate professor of history. The two main goals of the teach-in are to educate people about Pakistan and to encourage students to think about global citizenship within the context of climate change, according to Zamindar. "There have been two types of reporting on Pakistan in U.S. media — the War on Terror and violence against women. People are not aware of its linguistic and cultural diversity. The teach-in is an opportunity to raise awareness about the millions of people in rural Pakistan who have been affected by the floods," Zamindar said.

Furthermore, the floods are another indication that climate change takes the biggest toll on poor people in countries with authoritarian regimes, which are least equipped to deal with natural disasters, she added.

Faculty from a diverse range of departments have come forward to help with the teach-in, initiating a cross-disciplinary conversation which tests the challenges of global citizenship and the concept of a shared humanity, Zamindar said.

The Flood Relief Committee hopes to organize another teach-in later this semester and to sustain efforts to raise awareness about Pakistan, Zamindar said. She is also working with the Choices Program, a Watson Institute for International Studies initiative, which provides teaching resources to schools nationwide to empower students to engage with international issues.

Along with the opportunity for education, the flood relief efforts are an opportunity for South Asian students to work together, learn from each other and build civil society leadership in the region, Zamindar added

"The goal is to depoliticize these floods," Malik said. "Ultimately, a lot of poor people are dying, starving and homeless and they are the ones we are trying to help."



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