By Sidra Al Jammal
As the need for disaster relief continues to rise in Morocco and Libya, several Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) student groups organized a fundraiser to support the victims of the earthquake and floods that struck North Africa earlier this month.
On Sept. 8, Morocco was hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake—its strongest in a century. Just days later, on Sept. 11, an intense flood washed through Derna, a city on the Eastern side of Libya.
As of Sept. 25, the death toll in Libya was over 4,000 people and about 9,000 were still tragically missing, according to The Guardian. The death toll in Morocco had risen to 2,960 lives lost, and more than 5,000 people were reported injured.
The TMU fundraiser was held from Sept. 18 to 22 as a collaboration between the Arab Students’ Association (ASA), Middle Eastern Students’ Association (MESA) and Islamic Relief Canada.
Samia Musa, co-president of Islamic Relief TMU, shared that they started the fundraiser to help those directly affected. All donations will go towards helping those who have lost their homes and need medical assistance.
The fundraiser stand was set up outside of the Student Campus Centre on Gould Street. Student volunteers collected donations by selling snacks, tote bags and travel prayer mats. The Henna Vision, a student club at the University of Toronto that offers henna services, was also at the stand, helping bring in donations.
Yasmeen Qadoumi, MESA TMU co-president said support for the countries affected is crucial. “Not everyone has heard of it unfortunately,” she said. “People come and ask what [we are doing] and this is our opportunity to explain what is happening.”
Sham Al Mukdad, president of the ASA said bringing awareness to relief needs is important, but the work can be tiring.
“I was more than happy to inform people on what’s happening, but some of them did not care and that frustrated me,” said Al Mukdad. “I was really sad and disappointed when that happened because compassion, kindness and care towards any human on earth does not cost a penny.”
Al Mukdad said she believes the university didn’t bring attention to the issue as there was a lack of media coverage. “Despite having a diverse faculty and student body, our university did not attempt to raise awareness,” she added.
As previously reported by The Eyeopener, an emailed statement from the university sent on Sept. 21 stated “Toronto Metropolitan University cares deeply about all of its students. Given the recent and devastating events in Morocco and Libya, community members with loved ones and close connections to these regions are especially top of mind.”
Al Mukdad said students’ response to the fundraiser was more positive than she was expecting. “Many students on campus, the Muslim and Arab community, were very proud of what we were doing and supportive of it.”
Qadoumi recalled heartfelt gestures from some TMU students. “We have had people who have donated 30 or even 40 dollars so that when someone couldn’t afford to donate, they would be able to pick up a cookie for free.”
The organizers emphasized the importance of social media awareness. All three clubs had daily posts on Instagram providing information about the fundraiser, as well as sharing several graphics and reposting stories of people who came out to show their support.
Musa said students were commonly questioning where the money donated was going, which gave the student groups the opportunity to explain the situation on why they’re doing this to help the two countries.
“Islamic Relief Canada provides information about their crowdfunding and how donations get there,” said Musa. “We have teams and members all over the world that help get the donations to the people in need.”
Islamic Relief Canada makes information regarding financial audits available on their website.
If you wish to donate, please visit any of the sources below: