OUWB student organizations’ fundraising projects garner support for Haiti and Pakistan


Photo courtesy of OUWB News

OUWB recently conducted fundraising projects to provide products and support to communities in Haiti and Pakistan.

Two student organizations at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine recently conducted fundraising projects to provide essential products and support the communities in Haiti and Pakistan.

Marisa Stratelak (M2), president of Advocates for Global Health and Human Rights (AGHHR), initially planned and organized the Haiti project for the organization.

“I was a nurse before medical school and traveled to Haiti every year for five years before the pandemic hit,” Stratelak said. “I met some amazing Haitian and American healthcare providers there and experienced first hand the needs and desires of the local Haitian community we worked with.”

From these service trips, she learned that Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, is plagued by natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as political turmoil. In August 2021, Haiti was struck by another large Earthquake, having not yet recovered from the last natural disaster.

“The world rallies around Haiti for a couple of weeks, but eventually the media attention and donations subsided,” she said. “Haiti still needs our help. It takes years to decades to rebuild, so we wanted to collect items useful for the Haitian people.”

AGHHR collaborated on this project with Doctors without Borders (DWB) – another student-led organization at OUWB. With similar goals and missions, these two organizations, together, promoted global health, discussed and raised awareness of problems the Haitian population is struggling with.

According to Stratelak, the project was successful. The organization collected hygiene and food kits, including tampons, underwear, soap, toothbrushes, sanitizers, deodorant, empty water bottles and bleaches.

“We raised several boxes worth of items to send to Haiti,” Stratelak said. “There is so much going on in the world, and medical students do not have an income, so it was truly touching to see people donate so much. One of my classmates, Said Hasan, was very generous in his donation. I thanked him for his generosity, especially knowing we don’t have a large income, and he said ‘Don’t feel bad. What’s the point in money if we don’t give it to those who don’t have? [it]?” and I was touched by this. I am thrilled with the way this fundraiser went and hope to expand to professors and doctors in the future.”

In addition to collaborating with AGHHR on the Haiti project, DWB organized another project – the first of its kind to DWB at OUWB – to raise funds for wells in Pakistan in collaboration with DWB at Wayne State University.

As a Pakistani, Shahrukh Naseer (M2), vice president of DWB and secretary of AGHHR, said he had long hoped to help the Pakistani community and was inspired by the mission of developing sustainable water wells throughout rural Pakistan by an organization at the University of Michigan called “Paani.”

“Being Pakistani myself, I’m very aware of the water crisis currently occurring, so I wanted to get involved and do my part to help my home country,” Naseer said. “My biggest goal as a member of DWB was to create a fundraiser for the Paani Project, with the hope that this could become a long-term, recurring fundraiser for DWB to host.”

The initial goal of the organization with this project was to raise 600 dollars, which would build one well that could provide clean drinking water to 200 people. Fortunately, this goal was achieved in just five days. According to Naseer, the organization has so far collected over 1,200 dollars.

“I couldn’t be happier and grateful for the way it turned out,” Mary Drekh (M2), president of DWB, said. “We received so much support from students and staff at OUWB and went further to gather a great number of donations that exceeded our original goal and are helping us expand to build more drinking water wells that will serve many more Pakistani communities.”