Students raise money for India

Kili Schwantes

Several ISU students have joined forces to raise more than $6,000 to provide assistance to families left homeless after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Gujarat, India, Jan. 26.ISU student group Sankalp coordinated the India Earthquake Relief Fund, but other student groups, including the India Student Association and Sitar have also joined in the effort, said Anil Gannepalli, president of Sankalp.”Most of the money that we send will be used for providing food, shelter, drinking water, clothing, medication and basic sanitary supplies for the victims of the earthquake,” said Gannepalli, graduate student in chemical engineering. “More than one-third of the state’s population is living without food or shelter.”Most of the funds the student groups collected came from ISU faculty members, but 30 percent came from students, said project manager Abu Sebastian, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering.After a one-hour deliberation Tuesday night, members of Sankalp decided they would donate the money they raised to Social Health Education Development Society and the Self Employed Women’s Association, two India-based organizations. The final decision was based on three criteria, including the reliability and effectiveness of the organizations, availability of contacts for future work and previous donation experiences.The groups chosen have previously sponsored literacy-development and rural-development programs, members said, as well as donated time and money to ease the disaster of India’s latest earthquake crisis.The Social Health Education Development Society has raised $30,000 so far, but their goal is $80,000, Gannepalli said.Some group members said Gujarat’s population was a factor in the earthquake disaster.”It’s a well-populated state because of its economic situation,” said Sankalp treasurer Junaid Babar, graduate student in computer science. Gujarat is one of the better-developed areas in India, he said.Gannepalli said India was celebrating its Republic Day Jan. 26, and many people were at home watching the parade on television the morning the earthquake hit.Anyone interested in donating may send contributions to Sankalp, c/o Gannepalli, 2114 Sweeney Hall. For more donation information, visit the Red Cross online at, or call 1-800-HELP-NOW.