U. organizations rally for typhoon relief
Although Typhoon Haiyan wrecked the coast of the Philippines earlier this month, School of Arts and Sciences junior Francis Balagtas was only able to contact her family abroad just this weekend. Some members of her extended family had their homes destroyed.
To help families like Balagtas’, student organizations on campus collaborated to create a campaign, “Rutgers for the Philippines,” which aims to raise $10,000 to help Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan is the second-deadliest typhoon on record to hit the Philippines, according to NY Daily News. According to a CNN article published Monday, the death toll stands at 3,982 with another 1,602 reported missing.
The United Nations appealed for $301 million for emergency assistance, but disaster relief experts estimate the damage to the Philippine economy to be between $12 billion and $15 billion, according to a New York Times article published Nov. 12.
The Rutgers Association of Philippine Students is collaborating with 11 other organizations to raise awareness about this natural disaster among their peers using social media and hosting fundraising events, said Alyssa Esteban, co-president of RAPS.
RAPS is a student organization focused on Filipino interest. It was founded in 1985 and works toward raise awareness to Filipino culture, said Esteban, a Mason Gross School of the Arts senior.
Nolan Sucdad, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy graduate student, said a variety of organizations have joined the cause, such as the Asian Student Council, the Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Cantonese and Korean clubs, as well as many other Asian-interest fraternities and sororities.
“Rutgers for the Philippines” has chosen to donate all of its proceeds to the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.
The largest issue in the Philippines at the moment is a lack of food and clean water, said Jonathan Cho, president of Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian special-interest fraternity. Funds therefore will go toward water purifying tablets that emergency services have been sending to the Philippines.
Medical equipment is also needed, said Cho, a Rutgers Business School senior. Although many people are sick and injured, antibiotics cost a few cents to make — the problem is transporting the medicine.
But as of right now, “Rutgers for the Philippines” main focus is raising awareness through their social media campaign, he said.
“As a collaborative effort, our first priority is to create awareness,” he said. “Awareness alone will help people decided how they want to help.”
Sucdad said they are using a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using hashtags like #RU4PH and #ReliefPH to spread awareness for the campaign.
Sucdad said many participants have changed their profile pictures on Facebook to the “Rutgers for the Philippines” logo. They are also going start updating their page with news from the Philippines as it is happening.
During the first week of December, the organizations will hold events such as bake sales and penny wars, Esteban said.
“We are also planning on having a fundraiser at 16 Handles where 60 percent of the profits will go toward the fundraiser,” she said.
This week of events will lead up to a large-scale event, called the “Filipino Fiesta,” backed by sponsors, Sucdad said.
The details for the event are still under consideration, he said. As of now, they plan to have a carnival on Livingston campus Dec. 8 where students can make a donation in exchange for tickets or a form of credit. They can then use these credits to participate in activities at the carnival.
Sucdad said they are also trying to incorporate a cultural aspect to the carnival, such as cultural dance routines that will also raise funds.
“Attendees can experience various aspects of Filipino culture through hands-on activities, such as learning a Filipino cultural dance, carnival games, food and learn about the socio-political conditions in the Philippines,” Esteban said.
Cho said students should get involved because as one of the most privileged and fortunate age demographics, students should take advantage of their education and assets and work together.
“As students that are educated and privileged enough to get higher education, it’s almost our responsibility to aid the less fortunate,” he said.
Balagtas, a member of RAPS, said she appreciates seeing members of the University community care about the situation.
“I know not many are affected and I’m sure to the people who were directly affected, including me, this is very heartwarming,” she said. “So it’s definitely a good initiative and I think it helps people become aware of what’s going on.”