CU DENVER STUDENTS HELP REFUGEES SETTLE
Syrian refugees have been settling in different parts of the world, including Colorado, to escape the harsh conditions in Syria. For those in the midst of this crisis, it can be hard for them to obtain the most common goods, which is why several students on campus are helping out by donating and raising awareness to this cause.
“We need to take a stand in favor of justice and equity,” said Public Health student Nadeen Ibrahim. “That includes standing for Syrian refugees and seeing how we can be of assistance and rally in solidarity with them.”
Last October, Ibrahim and CU Denver student and poet Amal Kassir held a candle vigil in Denver to express solidarity with Syrian refugees. Kassir also helped organize a Winter Aid Drive, which the Muslim Students Association helped sponsor. They collected clothing, medical, and hygienic items, which helped fill a 40-foot container.
“Help is a feasible thing for college students,” Kassir said. “It’s not a matter of dedicating your whole life to this particular cause. It’s a humanitarian initiative.”
Beside aiding the refugees, Kassir, Ibrahim, and CU Denver student Obeid Faiko are also raising awareness by protesting, holding panels, and talking about the crisis in the classroom.
“I definitely talk about it in all my classes,” Kassir said. “It ties into everything I’m studying. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a good thing to have, especially in a university setting.”
Ibrahim, who is a Palestinian, believes it is vital to help Syrians out, despite the political backlash.
“It’s a critical time period for us to take more of an active stand on these types of issues,” Ibrahim said. “We have the ability and power to change things. All it’s going to take [is] our knowledge and commitment to do so.”
Ibrahim recently started a new organization with the Japanese Americans in the metro area called Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado. “We are joining those communities and promoting diversity,” Ibrahim said.
Although the three students work independently, Faiko, who is a Syrian American, recently opened a chapter of the Syrian American Council in Colorado, and he hopes to create a nonprofit organization of his own.
“I went from serving to protest to, now, organizing nonprofits,” Faiko said. “I feel it’s my obligation to do anything and everything I can to help out the Syrian refugees. Had I not been born here, the likelihood of me being a Syrian Refugee is almost 100 percent.”
Kassir, who is also a Syrian American, lost 30 family members in the crisis. She hopes educating students and others will help spread the word and help settle misconceptions present today.
“I perform my poetry about Syria,” Kassir said. “My poetry is intertwined with the stories from my family. As soon as you tell your story, the connection has been made. Now you know about what’s happening.”
All three students are planning more events, including more panels with members of Congress and a day at the Capitol during which students can talk to senators and politicians about the Syrian crisis.