Fast-A-Thon 2014 raises $33,500

Students at NYU and Columbia raised money for people in Gaza.

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Students at NYU and Columbia raised money for people in Gaza.

Alanna Bayarin, Staff Writer

The Muslim Student Associations of NYU and Columbia University co-sponsored Fast-A-Thon 2014: #Fast4Gaza in the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium on Oct. 17. 

Organizers of the 12th annual event chose to focus on the people affected by the situation in Gaza and raised a total of $33,500 by the end of the night.

Hediya Sizar, Steinhardt sophomore and co-chair of the Fast-A-Thon team, said this year’s Fast-A-Thon was more than a fundraising event.

“The goal of this event is not just to raise money, but to actually bring together a diverse group of individuals to do something impactful,” Sizar said. “[This event] was the first time we wanted to try to make this interfaith and bring people together. So money aside, I really think about this as people spreading love and doing good.”

The ceremony began with an evening prayer known as Maghrib. After the prayer, volunteers served Columbia and NYU students dinner to break their day-long fast.

Following dinner, Lila Suboh, a GSAS student in international relations, gave a personal narrative about the experience of her friend’s family in Gaza this summer.

“On July 19, 2014, Hannah’s family got a phonecall from the U.S. Embassy,” Suboh said. “The embassy had one message for her family: leave Gaza in the morning or die in what could be the worst attack Gaza has ever seen.”

Anem Shariff, a graduate student at the Silver School of Social Work and the Global Institute of Public Health, said she supported the cause, even though she was not directly affected by the crisis in Gaza.

“I grew up with a lot of Palestinians, and I have seen how the bombings over the summer have really impacted and almost destroyed families,” Shariff said.  “Although I am not Palestinian, I am here to show solidarity and support.”

There were also spoken word and dance performances, followed by a speech by Khalid Latif, the imam of NYU, who spoke about the past summer in Gaza and how his students at NYU could do a lot to help the people of Gaza.

“We had to digest the reality that more than 500 children’s lives were taken, 2,000 [in total] lost their lives, an entire city decimated,” Latif said. “When you try to think about the important role that you play, don’t undermine your own ability to cast deep impact on the world that’s around you.”

The Muslim Students Associations of NYU and Columbia had already raised a collective $15,000 before the event. When a representative from Islamic Relief USA asked the audience if they could make donations, this number doubled in only 20 minutes.

CAS sophomore Meyhad Mozffar said it did not matter how much money was raised it mattered that people were willing to help raise awareness.

“In the end, no matter what happens, no matter how much money we raise, everything we did was to help Gaza,” Mozaffar said. 

Silver junior Asad Dandia said she was very pleased with the outcome of the Fast-A-Thon.

“I really enjoyed it because there were a lot of different performances going on,” Dandia said. “I think it was very diverse and vibrant.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 20 print edition. Email Alanna Bayarin at [email protected].