Charity is not an option

For Rebeah Malik, charity isn’t an option. The University of Toronto graduate student says a sense of obligation is what led her and many other UTSC students to launch a fundraising campaign that concluded on Sept 15. by raising $125,000 for famine relief victims in Somalia.

“We grew up in a community that charity is not an option, if you can do something about it you should,” said Malik.

Malik along with her two friends, Marya Khan and Said Syed, held a large-scale fundraising dinner at Kally’s Banquet Hall. The event showcased local performers, as well as a keynote speaker, Dr. Shazia Malik, who had been working in Somalia in August for 10 days.

Dr. Malik specifically flew down for the event from Montreal where her practice resides.

“The reason they wanted me to speak was to really emphasize about what I saw when I was in Somalia and how devastating and how dire the situation is,” Dr. Malik said.

“I’ve been Haiti, I was in Pakistan, and it was 10 times worse [in Somalia] it was the worst situation I’ve been in,” she said.

Malik and her two friends first got involved with the Somalia situation when they came across a poster on Facebook. The poster Malik refers to was an article in August 2011 outlining the United Nations declaration that 3.2 million people are in need of immediate, life-saving assistance.

From there, the three students spread the word throughout their community and across their campus and within days hundreds of youth were willing to help the East Africa situation.

To help reach their initial goal of $100,000 the students have had various events to work towards this goal, Khan explained.

“We’ve had a silent auction, run by Butterfly Communities, a large Bazaar, a children’s carnival, and a number of Iftars, which are fast breaking ceremonies for Muslims in Ramadan,” she said.

The deadline to reach their initial goal was Sept. 16 at midnight because of the federal government’s pledge to match dollar-for-dollar donations to eligible charities until that date.

At the end of the Fight for Famine fundraising dinner, the donations were counted and had reached roughly $125,000. All the funds raised will be going to the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) in East Africa.