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Students Affected By Hurricane Katrina

Ranjani Saigal

PanIIT (Federation of IIT Alumni associations) along with organizations including TIE and other Indian associations is launching a concerted effort to help persons affected by Katrina - particularly international students, and professionals who have lost their jobs and homes.  Pan-IIT would like to use the IIT Alumni momentum and the resources of people of Indian origin to make a major difference to the community .

“Katrina has wrecked havoc. Pan-IIT has started a fundraising initiative to help those in need” says Sanjeev Maddila, Managing Partner of Sumpura, Inc in Naperville, Illinois who is coordinating the effort.

The hurricane displaced nearly 3000 international students. Nearly sixty Indian students have been displaced. “The fact that many of them do not have social security numbers yet makes matters worse for them” says Chandra Gollapudy, who is the President of Lambdanets in Columbus, Ohio.  Some students moved to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge Professors Pratul Ajmera and Dr. Srinath worked closely with the students to offer assistance.  Some have moved to University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South East. 

In the first three weeks, immediate needs for the Indian students were catered to by the Hindu-American Association in Baton Rouge. Three temples and some Indian Organizations came together to create this organization which provide clothes, utensils, kitchen utilities, pillows, blankets etc.The Swami Narayan temple has given $250 to each student, so they have a little cash to pull them through for two to three weeks.

The PAN-IIT efforts go beyond providing funds for immediate relief. “While we must take care of immediate needs we must look towards raising funds that can address the long range needs of the entire area” says Hiten Ghosh,Vice President at Hughes Network Systems who is spearheading the fundraising drive in the DC area.   

PAN-IIT  plans to work with Mayors and governments of cities where evacuees are being relocated e.g. Houston, Atlanta, Baton Rouge and help organizations like Red Cross and other organizations in the relief efforts. Working with these organizations, they hope to help in meeting the immediate and longer term needs.Gollapudy has set up a website that summarizes their efforts and also provides links to resources.. To volunteer time or money  please visit their website at http://lambdanets.com/katrina/index.htm.

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