Students' new charity offers hope to refugees
Thursday 30 January 2014
A group of Coventry University students are setting up a new charity to help Syrian refugees rebuild their lives.
The student-led aid organisation ‘Refugee Hope’, which officially launches at the University’s city centre campus on Friday 7 February, has come about as a result of a humanitarian initiative funded by Coventry University alumnus and international philanthropist Dr Majid AlSadi.
The Majid AlSadi Changing Lives programme has to date seen over 40 students from the University undertaking volunteering work in Jordan. In September last year, as part of the latest Majid AlSadi cultural exchange, 14 students visited a small settlement close to the Za’atari refugee camp near the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Touched by the plight of those living at Za’atari – home to an estimated 120,000 refugees from the ongoing conflict in Syria - the students immediately took to social media to launch their own fundraising and relief campaign. Word spread quickly via Twitter and Facebook and in just 48 hours the students raised an incredible £4,500, which they used to buy food, water, blankets, toys and other supplies for over 80 families at the camp.
Now back home and continuing with their studies at the University, the students are determined to offer ongoing support through the formation of their Refugee Hope charity.
Second year Disaster Management student Matthew Lyle, 27 from Somerset, took part in the exchange and is one of the leading figures behind Refugee Hope. He said:
Witnessing firsthand the human consequences of the current conflict in Syria was a profoundly moving experience for all of us involved in the changing lives programme. We were determined to help in any way we could and while we made a difference to a small number of families with our online appeal there is so much more to be done and that’s why we’ve created the Refugee Hope charity.
Chris Smith, senior development manager at Coventry University, added:
As the name suggests, the changing lives programme is all about helping others and the students who took part in the recent exchange certainly made a difference during their time in Jordan. Their fundraising efforts were fantastic and the establishment of Refugee Hope is testimony to their commitment to offer further support in the long-term.
Anyone wishing to find out more about Refugee Hope or get involved in its work is invited to the launch event on 7 February at which the students behind the charity will deliver a short presentation, outline what they hope to achieve and answer questions about their plans.