By Rupa Ramaswamy, Community Chair, Network of Indian Professionals Pittsburgh
An earthquake, never felt before
A Tuesday afternoon, 12th January 2010, with people all over the world still living in their memories about their New Year events and celebrations, an earthquake hit our planet, in the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This natural calamity was worst of its kind in 200 years with 7.0 magnitude followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Aaaahhhhhh!!!! This is how I responded when I first heard about this. The consequences of this earthquake were unimaginable to me. I quickly started browsing through different sites to get more information about this devastation. It was really sad to read about the aftermath of this incident. The photos made me feel even worse. Soon I learnt that the entire city, the capital of this tiny little country is totally destroyed leaving behind the survivors who are both physically and mentally wounded!!!!
Time to Act
The weekend following the earthquake, a Sunday afternoon, I was flipping through channels and listening to Haiti news. Suddenly I felt a need to do something to help these victims. So I immediately sent out an email to Network of Indian Professionals Pittsburgh board members asking for their opinion. Within few hours our team actively responded to the email and we decided to talk about this in the meeting, which was luckily scheduled the same evening. During the meeting, most of the members came up with great ideas. We all knew we had to act fast and decided to organize a fundraiser event at a local club ‘Firehouse Lounge’ and collect minimal cover charge from all the customers who visited that place. When we approached the club owner, he agreed to this but only on one condition, that being collection of cover charge only till midnight. The team definitely was concerned with this condition, as we didn’t know how much money we could raise. We did not have any $$$$ amount in our mind, but we wanted something substantial. Finally we decided to organize the Haiti Fund raiser event on following Friday evening at Firehouse Lounge.
(L to R) NetIP Pittsburgh Board Members: Pradeep Modi - Social & Co-Cultural Chair, Preetham Gowda - Co-President, Ketaki Desai - Co-President, Rupa Ramaswamy - Community Chair
The Event Day
Friday, 29th January 2010, members of NetIP Pittsburgh, met in the evening and headed together to the club. Two of our team members had also made posters for this event, which were displayed at the entrance of the club. It was 9:30pm and we were all set and ready to start the event. We were definitely concerned in the beginning as we had only few people entering the lounge between 9:30 and 10pm. As the clock ticked, we had more and more coming in and our cashbox started filling up. Within no time, we had a long queue at the entrance. This lounge happens to be a very popular place and they did expect a good number to show up especially on a Friday night. Also fortunately, that evening the lounge had special DJ who volunteered to help us by repeatedly announcing about our fundraiser. A few customers at the lounge were really thrilled by this event and generously gave more than the cover charge. Since we had a deal with the owner to collect the charge only till midnight, everyone in the team was looking at his or her watch, as the minute hand seemed to tick faster than usual. Even before we realized, it was midnight and we were asked to stop the collection.
Everyone in the team was curious about the outcome of the event and patiently waited to hear the final amount. Within no time, one of our team members came out with the total. Yes, NetIP Pittsburgh had raised $1000 in two hours!!!!! It was an Ah Ha! moment to the entire team.
Thanks to Firehouse Lounge and all the wonderful people who helped NetIP Pittsburgh in its efforts to help Haiti victims.
Editor’s Note: Proceeds from this event where donated to the Grameen Foundations’s Haiti Relief Fund. NetIP North America has pledged to support the initiatives of the The Grameen Foundation in 2010.
Edited by Latha Nehru, VP of External Affairs, NetIP NA