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  • American Muslim Voice
  • Bahá'í Community of Palo Alto
  • Beyt Tikkun Synagogue
  • First Baptist Church Palo Alto
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  • Palo Alto Friends Meeting
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  • West Bay Chapter, Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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Bay Area Faith Leaders Gather with Grieving Pakistani Family To Proclaim "Humanitarian Relief Needed for Earthquake"

The Santa Clara County Council of Churches, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice (MVPJ), American Muslim Voice (AMV), and the Mayor of Palo Alto in collaboration with Amnesty International USA, Global Exchange, Codepink and others will hold a press conference November 3rd to address the need for global efforts to provide emergency aid for victims of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that devastated South Asia in October. Among the speakers will be members of a Pakistani family who lost 21 loved ones in the earthquake.

“Each of our organizations works towards creating a more peaceful and just world and this is a critical time for us to come together and focus our energy, our compassion, our attention, and our resources on the hundreds of thousands of people who desperately need our help.” said Diana Gibson, one of the Council’s executive directors. “The people who are suffering are our sisters and brothers. It does not matter what faith tradition we or they come from.”

For AMV Executive Director, Samina Faheem Sundas, and the leaders of this interfaith peace movement, this is a critical humanitarian effort that should transcend race and religion. "The earthquake wiped out many villages, cities and demolished homes and school buildings killing over 100,000 people. Without immediate and massive international aid, many thousands more will die,” said Sundas. “The earthquake demolished two school buildings and over 650 children were buried. You can hear soft pleas and weakening soft noises from the rubble but you can't do anything but hope against hope that one of those voices is your little one. I can't bear the thought of those parents' pain and helplessness.”

Donor fatigue does seem to be playing a role in the slow response, despite the scope of this tragedy. “While I can understand the fatigue many of us are feeling after so many natural disasters, and the ongoing war in Iraq, we each have to ask ourselves to stretch a little further to help people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India who don’t have anywhere near the resources we have for recovering from such tragedies.” said Craig Wiesner, member of the MVPJ steering committee. “The UN has asked for our help, we have to respond.” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a greater world response to the earthquake victims in Pakistan, where relief agencies say thousands in the Himalayas face death from exposure. "There are no excuses," Annan said. "If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge. Our response will be no less than a measure of our humanity."

Press Conference Details:

When / Where: Thursday, November 3rd at 11:00am - First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary - 1140 Cowper Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Who: Family members who have lost loved ones and Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and People of Other Faiths. Local political leaders have been asked to participate. The coalition of organizations will call on people across the Bay Area to volunteer in the aid effort, donate money, and encourage the U.S. government to increase and speed up American aid to the region.

More Details from UN:

UNICEF has yet to reach an estimated 120,000 children in Pakistan's mountainous north, and about 10,000 of those could die of hunger, hypothermia and disease within a few weeks. Annan called on international groups, such as NATO and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to contribute helicopters, trucks and heavy-lifting equipment. Relief agencies need up to 45,000 more winterized tents, 2 million blankets and sleeping bags, water, sanitation equipment and food supplies, he said. Some 3 million in Pakistan remain homeless, and the country now faces "a second wave of massive death," Annan said.

About the Santa Clara County Council of Churches

The Purpose of the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County is to be the ecumenical presence in the county. The Mission of the Council of Churches Is to serve as a catalyst for its members as they act locally: To strengthen their ministries; To support each other; To provide moral leadership for meaningful social change. Visit www.councilofchurches-scc.org to learn more.

About Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice

We are an interfaith peace organization, based in Palo Alto, which comes together from more than 36 diverse faith communities and traditions to put our convictions into action by saying NO to war and YES to peace and justice. For more information about this event, or our organization, please visit www.multifaithpeace.org

About American Muslim Voice

AMV is committed to bridge the gap between all communities and foster life long friendships with all. We will work with all Muslim and non-Muslim organizations/groups who share our dedication and commitment to protect and preserve civil liberties and constitutional rights for all and protect human rights. We regard all humans as equal and will stand by all oppressed and targeted communities in their plight. We feel strongly about protecting and improving human rights globally. For more information, please visit www.amuslimvoice.org


Photograph in this story courtesy of Islamic Relief



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