Story submitted by Elon student Christian Seitz
The Syrian civil war has sharply increased in intensity recently, with more and more Syrians fleeing the country to escape the fighting. The more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees residing in countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine usually live in mediocre and crowded camps, but living in Syria is hardly better, as 70,000 Syrians have perished in the past two years and scores more are killed every day.
To ameliorate Syrians’ condition and strengthen their resolve, a group of Elon University students led by Assistant Professor Haya Ajjan, a native of Syria, have formed the “Speak Out for Syrians” club.
“Our mission statement is to create awareness about what’s happening in Syria and then motivate people to do something about it,” said Elon freshman and group member Julia David.
One of the group’s first projects is to collect money to send to UNICEF. Funds will be used to purchase clothes and toys for children in Syrian refugee camps.
Ajjan said she understands that not everybody can contribute material aid to the Syrian civilians but also believes messages and pictures conveying hope and support can go a long way.
“One thing that we’re trying to achieve with this club is we’re trying to tell civilians, ‘You’re not alone. We truly feel your pain,’” Ajjan said. “That message really comes from inside the heart. We’re hoping it will go to their heart and they will hear us.”
Along with sending money, Speak Out for Syrians is creating posters to be shared on their Facebook page, Elon SOS (Speak Out for Syrians), encouraging ordinary Syrians and bringing them hope for a better, more peaceful future.
Wording on the posters will be in English and Arabic, mirroring posters the Syrian dissenters have made, to reach a wider audience.
To raise additional awareness, Speak Out for Syrians has planned a number of events for the last week in April, which they are dedicating to Syria. The group has invited a representative of the Washington, D.C. branch of the Syrian National Coalition (representing the activists) and other Syrian-American experts and observers to a panel discussion, while an outdoor benefit rock concert is in the works as well.
The club members are also going to set up a table in Moseley for the week where students can create posters and take pictures holding either their own signs or pre-made posters to further support Syria; pictures of the signs will then posted on the group’s website and Facebook page to inspire Syrian activists and refugees.
If you are interested in joining Speak Out for Syrians, the group meets every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in LSB 300, or you can contact Haya Ajjan at email@example.com for more information.