Concert organized to benefit Syrian Refugees

Refugee Outreach supports Watanili, Support to Life


A cappella groups perform at the first event held by Refugee Outreach.

Anchita Khullar | Cavalier Daily

Refugee Outreach held a concert March 17 to benefit Watanili and Support to Life, two organizations working with Syrian refugees in Turkey to prevent gaps in education and to help them begin reassembling their lives. The night was filled with videos, speeches and performances from a cappella groups and individual student musicians.

All of the proceeds from the event go to nonprofit organizations.

“We want to make sure that people are in tune with what’s going on, and it’s not just something that you see on TV,” said Dalya Saadoon, a co-organizer and second-year College student. “It’s something that’s happening day-to-day in a different place. Just because it’s happening in a different place, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help with it.”

Refugee Outreach, the Arab Student Organization and the Afghan Student Association co-sponsored the event. About 50 people attended the event and close to $500 was raised for Watanili and Support to Life. Although attendance at the event may have been lower due to Saint Patrick’s Day, organizers believe the event was a success.

“Rather than raising a lot of money, we saw this event as a means of getting our names out there and taking a first step.” said Akin Yucel, a co-organizer and a third-year College student. “In terms of that, I believe it was very successful.”

This was the first event held by Refugee Outreach, a group seeking CIO status, formed by Saadoon, Yucel and second-year College student Laurie Findley. The three sought to form Refugee Outreach because they believed current CIOs addressing similar issues were too inactive. The organization aims to be highly active and to provide aid for refugees from all nations.

Findley came up with the idea for Refugee Outreach after working on other humanitarian projects.

“Initially, my work focused on human trafficking,” Findley said. “As that progressed, I saw how vulnerable the refugee population is to human trafficking and so my work focused on how we can aid them more so we can prevent the cycle and address the symptoms of the issues.”

Findley has been involved with humanitarian issues since the ninth grade. She said she was first motivated to help after seeing a documentary called “The Dark Side of Chocolate,” which highlighted issues with child labor and human trafficking in the cocoa industry. She said she now hopes to aid refugees in improving their quality of life.

“I’ve been getting engaged with other organizations that try to have a sustainable impact on this issue,” Findley said. “I know several people who either are refugees themselves or who have family who are affected by this, so this has a very personal implication as well. That’s why I feel so passionate about this cause.”

Celina Abbound, a fourth-year College student and Arab Student Organization president said proceeds from the concert will help provide education and psychological services for the refugees.

“Since all of us here are receiving one of the greatest educations in the world, it’s really hard and sad to see that people who want to be in a school or study in a college can’t [because] they were kicked out of their own houses,” Abbound said.

The event aimed to highlight hope in the face of tragedy.

“[The event talked] about a very difficult topic in a really unique way. [There were] speeches and a lot of performances,” third-year College student Savannah Lane said. “It really [brought] together our University community to celebrate our diversities, celebrate our cultures in a really exciting way. I think that’s a fantastic thing to do in such a polarizing time.”

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