University of Michigan-Dearborn alum Misbah Shahid can’t forget the rubble.
Shahid went to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, in November, just weeks after an Oct. 6 earthquake that registered 7.6 on the Richter scale devastated large areas of South Asia.
Shahid told his story last night in Rackham Assembly Hall at a fund raising dinner organized by the Muslim Students’ Association. The dinner, the first of six fund raising events sponsored by the group, raised $2000 for Islamic Relief, a non-profit organization that has worked in Pakistan since 1992.
During the five days he spent there, witnesses told him how “everything was falling inside the earth, and after the earth shook again, everything was spitted out,” he said.
Shahid, a development coordinator for Islamic Relief, recalled the horror of the human carnage caused by the devastation.
He told how at one point during the mission, he looked into a pile of debris and thought he saw a face, only to discover that it was a rock.
“You think you see dead people everywhere,” Shahid said.
Organizers said the main point of the dinner was to remind students that relief efforts are ongoing in response to the disaster that killed more than 79,000 people and left three million homeless.
“It’s amazing how people didn’t know where the region is until the earthquake,” said LSA junior Sana Kazi, who helped organize the dinner.
Although the earthquake initially garnered international media coverage, the world stopped paying attention as soon as the media stopped reporting it, Kazi said.
Shahid guided the audience through pictures showing how the land was destroyed after the earthquake.
He pointed to an image of green, blue and red blocks on the ground, explaining that those were the roofs of houses buried underground.
“Nearly 90 percent of the city of Muzaffarabad was either completely destroyed or uninhabitable due to cracks in the foundation of the buildings,” he said.
He could still smell the bodies six weeks after the earthquake, he said.
Kazi said she hopes the fund raising events will remind students of the need in South Asia.
“Our ultimate goal is to get people to realize what kind of condition the earthquake has created,” she said.
Shahid said it is hard to distribute aid efficiently in areas affected by the earthquake because some charitable organizations distribute aid haphazardly,
He said sometimes donations created chaos because victims of the earthquake fought to obtain the materials that were not distributed in an orderly manner.
As the winter brings more snow to the region, Shahid said it is becoming increasingly difficult for homeless victims to survive the elements.
“We must continue to help them,” he said.