After Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last week and left roughly 2,300 dead, Associated Students will vote on a resolution to begin a fundraising event that will collect money every day at the Arbor, University Center and the lawn of the Student Resource Building from today until next Thursday.
If passed, all donated funds will go directly to the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, or NAFCON, a Seattle-based group that will send aid to a relief and rehabilitation organization with access to disaster victims. A.S. also plans to allow online donations through a PayPal account on their website, if donors are unable to give funds in person.
A.S. Off-Campus Senator Beatrice Contreras, who is spearheading the resolution, said she was inspired to propose the resolution after hearing about the A.S. charity drive for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, through which A.S. raised $55,000. She also said she hopes the Filipino community on campus will help motivate relief efforts for the recent disaster, which has so far affected an estimated 9.5 million people.
“I was inspired to do this because we have a significant Filipino population at UCSB and many people have family members that live in areas hit by the typhoon,” Contreras, a sociology and Asian American studies double major, said.
Working together with campus Filipino organization Kapatirang Pilipino, also known as “Filipino Brotherhood/Sisterhood,” Associated Students hopes to raise $25,000 in student donations, which they will then match with their own funds, bringing the total goal up to $50,000, if the resolution passes.
Although funds raised would typically go to the Red Cross chapter of the Philippines, A.S. Senator and second-year political science and communication double major Nikki Calderon, who is co-sponsoring the resolution, said this will not be the case since the Red Cross chapter has a reputation for misusing funds.
“The Philippines’ Red Cross was objected to be used by the Filipino community here because in past years, it had been discovered that [this chapter] was stealing funds for employee personal use and the money was not being sent as aid,” Calderon said.
Calderon said the only relief organization that currently has access to most of the affected areas is UNICEF. However, only two military planes have been able to land in the region surrounding Tacloban — the worst-hit city — so far, meaning aid is arriving very slowly. As a result, Calderon said Associated Students needs to expedite the fundraising process in order to deliver donations to victims as quickly as possible.
For students like first-year biology major Nila Nathan, UCSB students have a duty to support populations abroad that are underprivileged or suffering from natural disasters.
“I think it’s vital to donate because we are lucky to have so much, and it’s important to show those who are less fortunate that we care,” Nathan said.
In an effort to raise additional funds for relief efforts, Kapatirang Pilipino plans to host an event called “The Benefit Open Mic Night” next Monday at the MultiCultural Center Theater. For those unable to donate money, the organization will also be accepting clothing, blankets and other necessities on the second floor of Embarcadero Hall next Monday through Friday.
UCSB alum and New Student Requirement Coordinator for the Alcohol and Drug Program Marjan Riazi, who is spearheading the clothing and blanket drive, said she was motivated to create the event when she learned that some of her own family members were affected by the typhoon.
“Our land was destroyed, but even worse is the fact that the homes of our 40 farmers and their families have been destroyed,” Riazi said. “These people literally have nothing. They are waiting for safety, but even after this storm subsides, they still have to pick up the pieces and rebuild all of their homes.”
In light of such drastic circumstances and suffering, Riazi said relief efforts will be long and strenuous, so she is working to build support on campus and offer as much aid as possible.
“This is going to be over a year-long process and this is only one story,” she said. “There are millions of people suffering in the Philippines so I feel more than obligated to do my part and help in whatever way I can.”
A version of this article appeared on page 4 of the Thursday, November 14, 2013 print edition of the Daily Nexus.