Students hope to ‘change lives’ after Syrian refugee camp visit

Student news

Monday 07 October 2013

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A group of Coventry University students are exploring ways to set up a charity to help Syrian refugees after visiting a refugee camp in Jordan at the end of September.

The 14 students, who flew to Amman as part of a cultural exchange funded by Coventry alumnus and international philanthropist Dr Majid AlSadi, raised over £4,500 for refugees during the trip – but are now looking to continue their fundraising efforts from the UK.

Spurred on by a visit to a small refugee site near to the Za'atari camp in the north of Jordan – home to an estimated 120,000 refugees from the Syrian war – the students hit Twitter and Facebook to appeal to friends and family to donate cash to help children at the camp.

In just 48 hours the students had raised an astonishing £4,500, which they used in downtown Amman to buy food, water, blankets and other supplies to distribute to the kids and their families at the camp.

Now that the students are back in the UK, they're looking for ways to continue to support and fundraise for the refugee camp, including the creation of their own charity.

The Majid AlSadi Changing Lives Programme, which has now provided over 40 Coventry University students with a unique global experience during their studies, also saw the students work with the Al-Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans – a charity founded by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan – and with postgraduates at the Jordan Media Institute on a series of cross cultural activities.

Matthew Lyle, 27, from Somerset is a second-year disaster management student who took part in the exchange. He said:

It's hard to really understand the gravity of certain situations when you watch it on TV, but when our group was faced with the reality of the current conflict in Syria and how it is affecting people young and old, we were moved to act.

The trip to Jordan provided us with a perfect setting to try and change lives for the better, and in doing so I believe we have all come back having experienced something that has changed our own lives too.

What we achieved was just a drop in ocean in terms of numbers of people helped, but we feel we made a difference and this has encouraged us to continue the work we started through the form of a charity to aid refugees all over the world.

Chris Smith, senior development manager at Coventry University, added:

The Changing Lives Programme simply would not have been possible without Dr AlSadi's generosity. It is so pleasing to see that the students who took part in the exchange wish to follow in Dr AlSadi's footsteps and give something back to those who are less fortunate than themselves.