Students gather food, clothes for Pakistan flood relief effort

By Jake Thielen

The flooding in Pakistan has affected millions of people, but has received less media coverage than other recent disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina.

One Oakland University student is doing her best to change that.

Former student body vice president Saman Waquad has been using social media to spread the word that Pakistan is still in need of monetary aid and supplies.

This year’s flooding is the worst flooding in Pakistan’s recorded history. According to Reuters, the floods have killed more than 1,750 people and affected another 20 million people, which is more than a tenth of the country’s population.

Waquad said that the media coverage in the U.S. has been slow to pick up on how big of a disaster the flooding is.

“The media coverage has been very poor, so unfortunately, two months later, a lot of people in the U.S. don’t even know about the floods,” Waquad said. “When there is media coverage, or talk about the issue, it turns political.”

Waquad said that her mother and some of her extended family members still live in Pakistan. Though none of them have been directly affected by the flooding, she still is active on Twitter and Facebook trying to help those who are in need.

“I’ve been using social media a lot, Twitter more so, to inform people about the devastation of the floods and different ways in which they can help,” Waquad said. “On Facebook I’ve tried to share as much info as possible on the floods and ongoing relief efforts. Twitter’s also been used to connect disaster relief needs with resources on the ground through text messages and tweets.”

In addition to using social media, Waquad has tried to spread awareness through campus events.

“I teamed up with Alexa Van Vliet from the GSA about a month ago to help fundraise for relief efforts,” Waquad said. “We are planning an all-day benefit event in partnership with WXOU and others on Sept. 30 to be held in the food court along the same lines as Haitipalooza.”

“Students will also be able to donate money at the cash registers in Pioneer Food Court starting next week. They will get a paper flag in return on which they can put their name, and all these flags will go on display.”

Waquad and Van Vliet have also been running a clothes drive in Vandenberg throughout September.

“We’ve had a recent wave of generous donations from a woman in Troy who has been collecting clothes and shoes from both her neighborhood and her mosque,” Van Vliet said. “I am amazed at the success of the drive.”

While the clothes drive has been successful, Waquad and Van Vliet are looking to expand it.

“The upcoming fundraising will focus more on food donations in addition to spare change,” Van Vliet said.

Waquad and Van Vliet plan to start a food and water drive in the OC and residence halls that will run from Wednesday, Sept. 22. until Friday, Oct. 1.

“People need to see this from a human perspective,” Waquad said. “The thousands of children at risk of dying from water-borne diseases or millions of people struggling to get food, clean water and shelter are not terrorists. They need the world to step in and help lift them up.”

For more information on how to donate to the relief effort, visit