Ohio University’s Arabic Language Student Association spreads awareness about Syrian refugee crisis

Ohio University’s Arabic Language Student Association spreads awareness about Syrian refugee crisisimage

30 Oct 2015

The Arabic Language Student Association held a Syrian Refugee Fundraiser on Wednesday in Front Room to raise money and awareness.

The event, which featured a variety of videos and short presentations, aimed to spread awareness of the crisis and raise money for the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty worldwide and delivering emergency aid.

“We wanted to use the Front Room because these are mainly students of different majors and don’t hear about (the crisis) as often as they should,” Nicole Morino, the student association’s public relations director and a junior studying global studies and political science, said.

In addition to the fundraiser, the group tabled in Baker Center to raise money and set up a GoFundMe. Morino said the association plans to continue fundraising for the next two weeks and hopes to remain active. It raised $101.62 from the fundraiser on Wednesday and $24 from previous tabling.

“We’re just trying to get as much as we can,” Morino said.

The goal of the fundraiser, however, was more about trying to reach out to people and inform them about the issue.

“It wasn’t really quantitative. Our desire was qualitative, to spread the word,” the association’s Vice President Mahmoud Tabbaa, a junior studying biology, said.

Morino said the student association chose the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere because students might be more inclined to donate to an organization that deals with children and education. She said people who donate to the cooperative will know exactly where their money is going. The money donated to the cooperative goes toward purchasing aid packages, including baby packages, hygiene packages, food aid packages and equipping tents for the winter.

Nukhet Sandal, an assistant professor of political science and director of the War and Peace Studies Program, criticized the tendency of some people and media outlets to refer to refugees as migrants, which she said diminishes the severity of the issue. She also spoke about the challenges refugees face when trying to cross the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

“Immigration implies a choice,” Sandal said. “Refugee means that you are running away from death, and these people are running away from death.”

Sandal said refugees from many occupations seek food and work, but refugees in Turkey are considered guests and cannot legally work. She said refugees are often exploited and added that during her research in Turkey she met with people who had temporary jobs that paid as little as $250 a month. “When I go to Turkey, I see these people trying to put together a life in really difficult conditions,” Sandal said.

Presenters brought up Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. The photo of his body, lying facedown in the sand, quickly trended on social media.

“That’s very close to a fancy vacation point in Turkey,” Sandal said of the incident. “When you have dead babies in your waters, there’s a problem. You can’t afford to sit back and do nothing.”