On April 24, a nine-story building collapsed in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
The building, called Rana Plaza, housed several garment factories. When the building collapsed, approximately 5,000 people were working inside. The most recent count puts 705 people dead, countless people are wounded and many are still missing.
Bangladesh Musicians Association of North America (BAMANA) organized a concert to help raise money on May 5 at Gulshan Terrace in Woodside. It featured more than 50 Bangladeshi musicians and singers from New York and New Jersey.
“We individually donated money through a website, but we think that music can bring more to it than an individual donation,” said drummer Richard Modhu, who came from New Jersey to perform at the concert.
Abir Alamgir, program executive at the New York office of the Bangladeshi broadcasting channel NTV, hosted the concert.
“That kind of tragedy never happens in Bangladesh,” he said. “People who died, they used to make less than $40 monthly. We feel we have to do as much as we can to help their families.”
Udipto Chowdhury, 12, was the youngest performer at the concert and gave a powerful performance.
“When I watched the news it brought tears to my eyes,” said Chowdhury.
During the concert, a slide show of the Savar accident and its victims was presented by the Bangladeshi photographer Mahmud-ur-rahman.
Besides the Bangladeshi musicians, other organization and residents in Queens are collecting donations to help the victims. Neghat Sultana, Nursat Laboni and Liza Uddin, three Bangladeshi friends, started collecting money right after the accident. So far they have collected $600.
Sultana is only able to work one day at a local CVS Pharmacy due to her pregnancy, but she tfelt she had to do something.
“After watching the Savar accident news, I felt the need to do something and my uncle sent $700 for those victims, which also inspired me,” she said.
Uddin works at Duane Read in Flushing and has collected $250 so far by asking her coworkers and friends to support her cause.
“People who went to work on that day at Rana Plaza went for money because they cannot afford to miss a day of work,” said Uddin. “They were really poor. We are trying to help their families.”
An ESL teacher at Prominent Learning Center in Jackson Heights, Dilara Begum and her son sent $1,000 to their relative in Dhaka, who is collecting money for victims.
The vice president of the Optimists, a non-profit international charitable organization, Minhaz Ahmed and his friends voluntarily sent money to Savar victims. Ahmed said there are many building in Bangladesh that could collapse at anytime because of a lack of proper oversight.
“Garments factories owners in Bangladesh are greedy and heavily corrupted,” said Ahmed. “They do not care about laborers or their safety. The building collapsed because the owners forced those workers to come to work.”