While Qatar got busy to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, youth around Qatar committed themselves to a charitable cause: a charity campaign geared to the cause of humanity in different ways. Led by Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar Student Government Association (VCU-Qatar SGA), the organization proposed the charity campaign and with the help of students from the multitude of campuses within Education City (EC) and the B&B Syndicate worked together to create a successful charity event. "EC UNITED 4 PAKISTAN: Bring Back Hope: Winter", the sequel event to the “EC UNITED 4 PAKISTAN” campaign held in August 2010, began in November 2010 and was sealed on the 22nd of January 2011. Nonetheless, the spirit of charity remains strong.
There were, of course, the inevitable stumbling blocks: the end-of-semester pressure kept students from volunteering and sponsors declined new proposals as the New Year drew near. If anything was learnt from this campaign, it was that faith and determination surmount any challenges as they come and keep everyone on track in helping the cause. Success within the failures experienced at each step of the campaign built up the adrenaline that rushed through the organizers and volunteers once the wheels were set in motion. Nothing is impossible, or so the youth taking part in the charity drive proved.
Students and staff from the EC campuses, Qatar Foundation Faculty and Staff, Qatar University, Stenden University (CHN), College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, the American School of Doha, Qatar International School, the Gulf English School (GES) and Qatar Academy plunged into the campaign. A staff from QNB, who has asked to remain anonymous, and Doha Bank were the sole sponsors of the event. Mission 20 and Kainat Foundation lent their presence by rallying in their uniforms. A video on Pakistan and the flood created by Ambreen Qaisar, one of the SGA designers, left the audience with a hard lump in their throats, staring in agonizing silence at the projector screen.
The drive brought together students, families, and individuals of all professions, regardless of race and age. “We are running a parallel campaign for Africa and this is exam week for our university, but we will put in our best efforts to do anything we can for your campaign,” said the Vice President of CHN Student Representative Council. All students participating in the drive sold t-shirts, badges, stickers and tickets for the Charity Dinner at various centers.
The EC-Wide Potluck Lunch earlier in the year also brought in respectable donations. A man who hid behind the curtains most of the time deserves a standing ovation: Sheraz Malik, an employee at Qatar Gas who contributed about three quarters of the total donations which he had been collecting since Ramadan (August 2010). “All I did was organize the collection. I went to masjids, schools, etc…from compound to compound. People donated. It was good. I just hope it got to the people in need,” he said.
This campaign yielded QR. 40, 000 in less than a week in contrast to the QR 74’000 that was collected through a similar campaign by EC students led by the B&B Syndicate in late August 2010. “We did what we could do best at this time of the semester. Everyone is so busy. You should relax and get some sleep, everything will be fine in the end,” said Mehdi, a second year Pre-Medical student at WCMUQ to one of the lead organizer of the campaign.
The Qatar Red Crescent took charge of the monetary responsibilities and further aided the campaign with all their armors and shields. They presented their relief efforts at the Charity Dinner that officially marked the end of the campaign. Abu Aaliyah Abdulla ibn Dwight Battle, a renowned Sheikh at Fanar Mosque, struck the hearts of the large congregation through his enlightening talk on the significance of charity.
Representatives of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) painted a picture for the eager audience at the closing charity dinner on how the goods would be shipped to their destinations. Only on January 22, 2011 were the students from EC able to hand over the five tons of relief goods, including milk, clothes, water, canned food, and winter clothing they had received throughout the charity drive to PIA cargo officials. Student volunteers including the VCU-Qatar SGA President and the PR officer gathered a group of passionate volunteers to for the next couple days in a dusty room to pack the enormous pile of relief donations. Students and professors from GES persevered and already had their large donation of warm clothes packed prior to pick up.
The campaign has passed, and I am not in the country for a while, but the adrenaline and goose bumps from working with a charity campaign still remains. I hope the goods and the money brought some relief to the people of Pakistan. I remember replying to Farheen, the Public Relations Officer, a few hours before flying to Virginia, USA, explaining some last minute procedures. It was as though a storm had just passed, and swept away everything. It was hard to put an end to the campaign. My prayers remain with the country, and all of humanity. On behalf of Qatar Foundation, VCU-Qatar extends their wholehearted gratitude to all the students outside QF who have sacrificed their time and efforts.