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£6,000 paid for one banana at London university charity auction

One single banana was sold for £6,000 and three cakes for nearly £40,000 at charity auctions organised by Muslim students at London universities. The money was raised as part of Charity Week, a national fundraising initiative largely run by university Islamic Societies across the country, raising money for Islamic Relief UK.

Students from multiple university societies pooled their resources together to bid for the banana at University College London (UCL). And fellow university students all agreed to chip in together to make the final amount.

Himaayat Choudhury, one of the organisers of the charity auction and a third-year medical student at UCL said:

“It was less about who would win the banana bid and more about coming together in unity to raise as much money as possible to help children in desperate need.”

The most expensive cake was sold by UCL for £16,000; St George’s sold their cake for £14,400 and King’s College raised £8,000.

Although King’s College and St George’s struck a competitive edge with bidders divided by gender, at UCL the auction followed a different track. The male and female students pooled their resources to bid for the cake together.

Nabeel Chowdhury (19), the male Charity Week President for St George’s and a second year medical student, said:

“Seeing how much was raised made me realise that all the hard work I had put in preparing for Charity Week was worthwhile. It’s not often that you can see such a tangible representation of the impact of your work, but the cake auction was it. Charity Week is very important for me. I’m in a privileged position in the terms of the time that I have and I have a responsibility to give something back.”

Lina Abdul-Karim, the female Charity Week President and a biomedical science student in her second year, speaking on behalf of all the female students who got involved, added:

“The female students have raised the most for a cake for three years running now, so we wanted to continue this. Even those who weren’t able to attend the auction in person played their part by pledging a donation. We’re very proud of what we have achieved together. Many students have been saving money and fund-raising to be able to pledge as much money as possible for Charity Week. We’re a small university but we are determined to do as much as we can to support the important cause of orphans and children in need.”

Mariam Kadodia, Charity Week Coordinator for Islamic Relief UK, said:

“It is amazing just how much the students have achieved together. At such a young age and during such a busy time in their schedules, they have pulled out all the stops to raise a huge amount for charity. I’m so impressed by them.”

Although the main aim of Charity Week is to raise funds for children and orphans in some of the poorest countries in the world, it also helps to create friendships and unity amongst the participants.

Nabihah Hamid, a fourth year dentistry student and one of the organisers at King’s College, said:

“There is a long-standing tradition to get new freshers involved in our fundraising efforts – to keep them engaged and motivate them. Charity Week also offers a unique chance for students to develop themselves and grow the sisterhood and brotherhood amongst the different students, societies and groups. It also forms a lasting bond of friendship.”

Charity Week began as an annual volunteer-led campaign launched by a group of students in London back in 2003. Over the years it has raised over six million pounds.

All the money raised during Charity Week, goes towards supporting children’s projects run by Islamic Relief around the world. The projects are wide and varied and include building schools in Mali, refurbishing orphanages in Syria and helping children to go school in Afghanistan.

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