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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Pro-Palestine fundraiser honors those dead in car crash

Arab+Student+Association+and+Asian+Student+Conference+hosted+the+fundraiser+for+Palestine+on+Nov.+20+in+honor+of+Carol+Chakra+and+Lian+Awadi%2C+who+died+in+a+car+crash+on+Nov.+15.+Chakra+was+pro-Palestine+and+an+ASA+member.
Courtney Brown
Arab Student Association and Asian Student Conference hosted the fundraiser for Palestine on Nov. 20 in honor of Carol Chakra and Lian Awadi, who died in a car crash on Nov. 15. Chakra was pro-Palestine and an ASA member.

Arab Student Association and Asian Student Conference partnered to raise donations for Palestine while honoring 19-year-old Wichita State student Carol Chakra, who died in a car accident on Nov. 15.

The fundraiser and memorial event spanned three tables in the Rhatigan Student Center on Monday, with one table dedicated to Chakra and 19-year-old Lian Awadi, who also died in the same car crash. The candlelit table featured a picture of Chakra and sympathy cards and eulogies written for both Chakra and Awadi.

Fatima Touffaha wrote in Chakra’s eulogy that being around her “felt like magic” and how Chakra supported her at an Arab Student Association (ASA) meeting in early October.

“We laughed together as she told me what was going on in my life and she did the same,” Touffaha wrote. “Later that night she hugged me as my eyes teared up and (she) supported me like she had known me her entire life…. She had a way of making everyone feel so, so important.”

Alongside the memorial table, ASA collaborated with the Asian Student Conference to host a bake sale to raise funds for Palestine, selling cookies, banana bread and Arab sweets such as namoura and baklava.

Banine Haidar, an ASA member, said the fundraiser for Palestine is meant to honor Chakra because she was very pro-Palestine.  

“She was in every protest,” Haidar said. “I remember she would text me, ‘Hey, do you have an extra keffiyeh?’ – like the headscarf. She would love this (fundraiser) … Some of the (ASA) executives have really, really pulled through, and their efforts into helping to making sure that her memory stays alive, which, of course, is very, very important to us.”

The creation of Israel in 1948 displaced over 700,000 Palestinians and led to the capture of 78% of the region’s land. Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political group, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7. According to Reuters, the Israeli death toll is 1,200.

After Oct. 7, Israel started a bombing campaign on Gaza. As of Nov. 20, at least 13,300 Palestinians have been killed.

ASA aimed for its fundraiser to help those who feel “really hopeless” and aren’t sure how to support Palestine. To honor Chakra’s memory, Haidar said ASA hopes to make the donations in her name once the group gets approval. While Awadi was not a Wichita State student, Haidar said they also got permission to honor Awadi at this event, too.

Abdelkarim Jibril, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and an ASA member, also participated in the fundraiser and set up a table educating about Palestine symbols and “common misconceptions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.”

According to Haidar, SJP used to be part of ASA, but they branched out after becoming a recognized student organization last week. Jibril said SJP plans to host educational events like tabling, panels and discussions.

“The main goal is to bring people together and just talk about the issues that are happening in Palestine and show us the atrocities that are happening because a lot of people don’t know about the issue,” Jibril said.

Jibril said Chakra was supportive of Students for Justice in Palestine.

“I said, ‘Does anybody want to start one or something like that with me?’ She was the second person to say, ‘I got you, man,’” Jibril said.

Haidar said ASA will continue to advocate for Palestine and honor Chakra and Awadi’s lives.

“We don’t want this to stop; this is not going to be the last thing,” Haidar said. “We will try our best to make sure that Palestine and (Chakra and Awadi’s) memories stay alive as long as we can.”

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About the Contributor
Courtney Brown, Investigative News Editor
Courtney Brown is the investigative news editor for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.

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