UW-Madison: Students Help Organize Lebanese Relief Efforts

MADISON – While completing summer engineering internships at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, six students from the American University of Beirut (AUB) are
organizing relief efforts they hope will aid some 750,000 Lebanese civilians
displaced as a result of recent bombings.

“For us, being outside Lebanon is a daily torture,” says Samer Sobh, a computer and
communications engineering student from Alley, Mount Lebanon. “We are away from our
parents and friends. We are living at the rhythm of the news.”

After the conflict began more than two weeks ago, the Lebanese students here were
depressed, says Sobh. “But then we woke up,” he says. “This is not the way to help;
this is not the solution to the never-solved problem. Lebanon needs us, and the
Lebanese have nobody except us. This is why we have decided to replace passive grief
with constructive action.”

Sobh says they are determined to “transform those feelings into actions” through a
relief effort. Recently, the six students established an Internet forum with AUB
students in Michigan and Sweden to focus humanitarian relief efforts for Lebanese
civilians. In addition, the group hopes to centralize worldwide relief efforts –
more than 100 Web sites and 200 bank accounts already exist – to avoid duplicating

Locally, the American Red Cross Badger Chapter is helping the students raise funds;
a Madison mosque and several churches also are organizing a fund-raiser for Sunday,
July 30.

“Our efforts should at least provide food, mattresses and medication to the refugees
in need,” says Sobh. “Later on, donations to support the reconstruction of the
Lebanese infrastructures will be needed too.”