Skip the latte and donate to Syrian relief efforts


By Agueda Garcia

Winter is approaching and, for many of us, it is easy to unpack our winter clothes and be ready to face the harsh weather that awaits us.

The Syrian people who have left their homes with almost nothing ­­­­are struggling to build a better life for themselves and their family ­— they too will have to get ready to face the winter months.

The troubles in Syria began in 2011 when peaceful demonstrators who were calling for democracy and more freedom were met with violence from security forces. The conflict escalated and a civil war erupted between Syrian rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The Syrian people are seeking asylum because of the ongoing danger the country’s unstable environment poses.

As the refugees journey to find shelter, they lack many of the basic amenities we so often take for granted. Four years of civil war, four million refugees and so many deaths cannot be ignored. Many of the refugees are children, and at such a young age they have already lived through instability, violence and tragedy. Jan Winterization US updated.pdf RB

As students of this University, it is important that we do not forget the troubles that many Syrian refugees face and that we can find the means to donate.

As Illinois students, we are familiar with freezing winds and blizzards; however, most of us have not faced a winter without a jacket, shelter or food.

With Homecoming and Halloween approaching and midterms behind us, many of us will be spending money on costumes, alcohol and our favorite restaurant on Green Street, while Syrian families are forced to wonder where their next meal might come from.

We should remember them when we make unnecessary purchases, instead think about the impact a donation can make — the money spent on a latte or slice of pizza could instead go to those who are seeking basic resources.

In July, the number of Syrian refugees had grown to four million and 7.6 million still remain in Syria. RB No matter where they are located, the Syrian people are facing obstacles that some of us could never imagine. Donations are helping them continue their journey and survive the harsh conditions.

Organizations like UNHCR and Unicef are taking small monetary donations to help the relief efforts. Rather than spending money on a sweater from Urban Outfitters or sushi from Ko Fusion, we can choose to eat in one day and instead donate to organizations that can truly make a difference.

Donations to UNHCR can provide help in running camps and providing shelter and aid to refugees across Europe. On the other hand, Unicef provides life-saving supplies such as clean water, medicine and psychological support for Syrian refugees. The organization states that 14 dollars could provide an emergency water kit for a family.

We can donate small amounts of money or if donating money isn’t possible, we can help by staying informed and making sure not to ignore the refugees’ struggles. A small contribution can go very far and it will enable them to move forward to a better place.

It is hard to reflect on a dire situation like the one the Syrian people are facing while being so far away from the crisis. Although we are in Champaign, there are still ways to connect to this crisis.

Last March, the Arab Student Association at the University began a Syrian Relief Project on campus in order to raise awareness about the ongoing troubles facing the Syrian people. The organization was hoping to teach students about the Syrian crisis and were asking for monetary donations to send to organizations.

We have an obligation to take initiative and learn about the refugee struggles and donate in order to help them. Access to donation centers online and free newspapers available by campus buildings make it easy for us to keep informed; we have no reason not to be involved.?

Agueda is a senior in LAS.

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