Members of the Cornell community gathered at Sage Chapel for a candlelight vigil in support of the victims of the Oct. 8 southeast Asian earthquake early yesterday evening.
The earthquake killed over 66,000 people and left millions homeless in Pakistan, India and Kashmir. Relief and rescue operations are still underway in the area.
Nausheen Rokerya ’07, treasurer of the Pakistani Students Association (PSA), opened the vigil by citing the incredible damage caused by the earthquake and by inviting those in attendance to offer their prayers for the victims.
Rokerya was followed by Janet Shortall, associate director of the Cornell United Religious Works.
“As news [of the earthquake] starts to recede from the front pages of the newspapers, I fear that it may become more difficult to get aid,” Shortall said.
“On behalf of the University,” said Dean of Stuents Kent Hubble ’67, “let me extend my greatest concerns and thought of solicitude to [those affected].”
Prayers were also offered by two religious figures. Philip Fiandio, Catholic chaplain at Cornell, went first, lighting incense and reading from Hebrew scripture. Omer Bajwa grad followed with a prayer from the Koran.
“Disasters have occurred during the [Muslim] holy month of Ramadan,” Bajwa said. “This instance [of fasting] can give us the opportunity to feel what it’s like to be without anything.”
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is considered holy by Muslims and is marked by “prayer, fasting, and charity.”
The vigil drew a large and diverse crowd to Sage Chapel. Few people left after Rokerya announced the vigil’s conclusion. Those who remained held an impromptu moment of silence for several minutes before departing.
“[The earthquake] reminds me how vulnerable we are to natural disasters.” said Faik Bouhrik ’06. “Disasters … aren’t concerned with [racial] boundaries.”
“I think this is wonderful,” he said, referring to the vigil.
Proceeds collected in a donation box at the vigil will be donated to OXFAM and The Citizens Foundation, two charitable organizations helping with earthquake relief. Aneesa Mitchell ’06, one of the students helping to organize the event, encouraged those interested in donating to visit the charities’ websites.
The vigil was sponsored in part by the PSA, the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association, the International Students and Scholars Office, the Islamic Alliance for Justice, South Asian Women (a Cornell student organization), the Sri Lankan Students Association, Big Red Relief and the South Asia Department.
Archived article by Chris Barnes
Sun Staff Writer