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Students hold vigil for earthquake victims

Eighty MIT students stood together on the steps of the Student Center on Thursday, Oct. 27 in a candlelight vigil to raise money for the victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake that devastated parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

Organized by the Pakistani Students at MIT (Paksmit), the vigil was one of many taking place on campuses around the region. Harvard University, Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Boston University, Rutgers University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Berklee College, Hampshire College, Dartmouth University and New York University all participated.

More than 80,000 people died and more than 3 million were left homeless in Pakistan, the country most devastated by the earthquake. Entire villages in the Kashmir region and northern Pakistan have been destroyed, and the death toll is still expected to rise.

On Oct. 9, Paksmit started collecting funds in Lobby 10, and over the following week collected more than $1,000. Paksmit also brought the Pakistan Association of Greater Boston and the Association for the Development of Pakistan together in an online collection effort, which raised $150,000 in just 72 hours.

Concerned by the lack of attention in the media, senior Mubarik Imam of Paksmit has been working to raise awareness about Pakistan and the earthquake.

During the vigil, which was rescheduled from Tuesday, Oct. 25, due to rain, Paksmit showed a video depicting the beauty of Kashmir and what the people were like as well as the "utter devastation that followed," said Imam.

Candles were available for a suggested donation of $2, although many people gave more. More than $750 was raised.

"We wanted to find a way to bring the campus together," said Imam. "A lot of people came up to us afterward to say how touched they were."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 2, 2005 (download PDF).

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