Zubair Ali wears a blue shirt and smiles.By Tanushree Sow Mondal ’24

As countries worldwide continue grappling with variants of COVID-19, Zubair Ali ’24 decided to lend support to his ancestral home of India, one of the most severely affected nations currently with nearly 400,000 cases per day, in the form of a fundraiser.

Born and brought up in New York himself, Zubair speaks of India as an integral part of his identity as his entire family originates from the South Indian city of Hyderabad and his father’s side still resides there.

“I was seeing a lot of social media about what was happening in India, and I was getting concerned for my family, for the whole state of the country, because I was seeing crematorium posts after crematorium posts, people not getting enough oxygen, and it looked really dire,” Zubair says.

Zubair Ali and a companion pose for a photo in a market in India in front of a building's gatewayHe researched and coordinated with different verified nonprofits, mostly localized efforts, to spearhead a Venmo fundraiser in collaboration with the South Asian Students Association. The initiative gathered steam through promotion on Instagram and as friends and even professors spread the word.

“The fundraiser was set up in the form of a Venmo board—it was put on Instagram stories, and there was a little game that you could play. So, if you donated, you’d be marked on the board and given a shoutout,” Zubair says.

The week-long fundraiser raised a total of $2,385. Half of these funds was transferred to The Desai Foundation, which covers vaccine costs and furnishes supplies to hospitals in four major northern states, and the other half to the Breathe India campaign, which provides oxygen cylinders to major cities.

“In political discourse, I think South Asians are often left out, and I feel terrible and angry that it took this much for people to start caring and helping,” Zubair says.

Zubair Ali stands far in front of a building and holds his thumb and index finger together to create the appearance that he's holding the building by its topHowever, he also expresses heartfelt gratitude to the Lafayette community for its responsiveness and passion in helping his cause.

“It really means the world to me that I am surrounded by a community that is willing to help my community in such dire times of need,” Zubair says.

Beyond this effort, Zubair is also an active donor to other charities helping with COVID-19 relief in Hyderabad.

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