For a cause: Sisters and students unite to raise funds for refugees


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Refugee Mohammad Feras Almahameed shares his story (with Hasnae Abouhilal translating) at the Refugee Day event in the Learning Commons.


Ali Sidiki, Staff Writer

On Monday, Oct. 26, students and IHM Sisters hosted a fundraiser for the crises going on in Syria, Burma, Palestine, Iraq and Sudan.

The first part of the event, an informational session, took place between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Learning Commons. Students sponsored an open mic night and facts reading about the crises at the Fireplace Lounge in Nazareth Hall later that evening.

Students, faculty and people who wanted to donate to the cause were welcome to attend both parts of the event. The event encouraged attendees to donate clothes, money, blankets and food items to the refugees and organizers were accepting donations on the spot.

Senior mathematics major Susan Durand said that she came to the event to support the cause and become more alert about the catastrophes that have struck Syria, Iraq, Burma and Palestine.

“I honestly was not aware of what has been going on. I came here today to support this cause and get more educated about the issue,” she said.

Later on, the Fireplace Lounge was filled with the aroma of coffee, the warmth of the barely-lit fireplace and fresh cookies. There were posters all around with various facts about the crises and donation jars and boxes placed around encouraging people to donate.

One of the organizers, freshman nutrition major Salma Ahmed said that she wasn’t hoping for such a large turnout and was humbled that about 40 people showed up as compared to the 10 to 15 that showed up earlier at the Learning Commons.

“This is a really good turnout. Earlier during the day, there were very few people who attended the informational session at the Learning Commons, and I started to lose hope,” she said.

The night was a mix of facts reading of the crises by students followed up by musical performances. Students did their own rendition of famous songs including a nostalgic version of  “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. Students also sang their own original songs.

One of the performers, Joseph Buderwitz, a junior history secondary education major, said that he was performing to be “a part of the cause.” 

Sr. John Michelle,  IHM, assistant director of Campus Ministry, helped put the event together and said she was content with the day’s proceedings.

“Everything went wonderfully well,” she said.

Sr. John also said that the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) played a huge in distributing donations to refugees within Scranton and is still continuing to do so.

“I sat down with the ambassadors from CRS and we spoke about this major crisis that has struck the world. That was when we decided that we needed to something about it,” she said.

Sr. John also stressed the importance of being aware of the crisis itself.

“People are ‘couch-blind.’ They don’t want to know what’s going on around them. If they watch something heartbreaking on TV, they feel guilty, and when they feel guilty, they feel the need to do something. Nowadays, we are too lazy to get up and do something about it. So if they watch something heartbreaking, they simply change the channel,” she said.

Four refugees attended this event. Three were from Somalia, while one was from Sudan. Mohammed Ahmed, a 34-year-old Somalian refugee, offered his reasons for emigrating from Somalia. 

“We came here because we wanted to make a difference, to be happy. We’re here because we want to educate ourselves and make money. We are so grateful for the help that we’ve gotten,” said Ahmed.

Students and faculty who could not make it to the event were able to donate until Oct. 30 at designated donation jars at the Nazareth Dining Hall and at the Learning Commons. Half of the proceeds from the 50/50 drawing on Oct. 30 went to winner while the other half with went to CRS in order to help refugees. 

Contact the writer: [email protected]