Local Groups Seek Donations for Bangladesh Victims

Bangladesh has suffered two recent tragedies-- a fire that killed 8 earlier this week and a garment factory building collapse that killed more than 1,000 last month. 

Today, miraculously, a woman was pulled from the rubble, 16 days after the building collapse. 

"When I first heard about the collapse, I thought what can I do to help. I felt sorrow, really sad," said Dara Bakar, president of the Penn Bengali Students Association

Bakar visited Bangladesh in January on a medical volunteer mission. "Seeing the conditions. It's hard there. They are making $3 to $5 a day. There are no building codes," he said.

To maintain ties to their countrymen, student association members mentor elementary and high school Bengali immigrant students at Moder Pathshala in Philadelphia. 

Bangladesh is one of the largest garment producers in the world, with women being the primary workforce, according to Mahubaba Zaman Runa of the Bangladesh Association of Delaware Valley.

"My reaction was sad and anger because mostly in the garment factory-- people are packed in there. I'm surprised it didn't happen before," said Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed, a professor of medicine at Drexel University.

Members of the Philadelphia Bangladesh community are raising funds to help the victims of these tragic events. 

"If we can scrape up a couple hundred dollars, it can go a long way," said Bakar. The student group plans to make t-shirts to sell this summer to raise additional dollars and then send their donations to BRAC, a nongovernmental agency committed to helping the world's poor.

The Bangladesh Association of Delaware Valley (BADV) is also raising funds. They are accepting donations by mail and will also send their donations to BRAC. So far, the organization has raised about $6,000, according to Dr. Ahmed. "People are trying to do the right thing and help each other," he said. 

Ahmed encourages everyone to donate because all consumers have likely purchased clothes from Bangladesh.

Some United States retailers, such as J.C. Penney and the Children's Place, admitted ties to the Bangladesh garment industry. Angry workers united worldwide for May day rallies following the deadly garment factory collapse. Unsafe work conditions was a primary focus for the protest.

The BADV is hosting a celebration on Saturday, June 8 at Bellevue State Bark in Wilmington to celebrate the Bangladesh New Year and to bring further awareness to the recent tragedies. Donations will be accepted at the event. 



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