A Victoria woman has raised enough money through an online fundraising campaign to send eight youth refugees back to school in the Middle East.
Vancouver Island University graduate Alexandra Dawley has raised just over $1,100 in 10 days through a GoFundMe campaign called Lanes for Learning to raise awareness of increased need for international support for refugees in Amman, Jordan.
“We see words in the media like ‘migrant’ and can disassociate ourselves from the humanity of refugee situations. Every human being that is facing the struggles of being a refugee is first and foremost that: a human being. When it comes to education, a little can go a long way,” said Dawley, adding it only costs $130 to cover all education expenses for a refugee child for a full year in Amman.
Dawley's passion for refugees began while she was pursing her masters at the University of Sussex in England, studying international social development in 2013.
This led her to take three trips to Jordan to complete dissertation research about the experience of Iraqi refugees in the region.
It was here that she began working with a grassroots organization called Collateral Repair Project, which works to provide emergency aid and community development opportunities for refugees and marginalized communities in Amman.
“After completing my degree, I found myself constantly thinking about the youth and teens I had gotten to know while in Jordan, and decided to share some of their stories and engage with the local Vancouver Island community,” Dawley said.
She put on a fundraiser in Nanaimo and raised roughly $2,500 for the project to put towards heaters and blankets for the winter months, art supplies and for teens to participate in a leadership program. She quickly wanted to help more Amman youth.
“The vast majority of refugee children and youth are unable to attend school and are therefore stripped of the sense of stability, personal development, and essential skills that come with receiving a formal education,” Dawley said.
That inspired her to create the Lanes for Learning campaign, where she also swam 3,000 metres at a local pool. The money raised will go towards sending eight elementary to high school-aged youth back to school in September.
“I have grown to see that community in Victoria, Nanaimo and greater Vancouver Island are generally very caring, globally aware, and willing to support worthwhile causes,” Dawley said. “People simply want an avenue to donate that is trustworthy and meaningful. This campaign bridged people with the opportunity to give.”
Donations can still be made to collateralrepairproject.org.