Students for Orphan Relief is a nonprofit organization based in Dearborn. Last year, they opened a chapter on Wayne State’s campus to assist children in and around Detroit.
Originally founded by a WSU biology graduate student, Ali Dourra, SOR is an organization that raises funds to help orphans worldwide. Its larger projects have focused on fundraising money to buy water wells in Africa, mainly Tanzania and Mali, to eliminate the labor orphans endured to attain water.
After a few years, Samer Dubaisi, an undergraduate student majoring in biology, founded a chapter of SOR at WSU. Once SOR accomplished their goal of funding a water well in Africa, they decided to center their focus on Detroit.
SOR administrator and psychology major Sameen Jaffry said their location in Detroit gives SOR more opportunities to offer kids a unique set of resources.
“We offer something different. We offer something so raw to the human experience,” she said.
SOR is currently partnering with the nonprofit organization Developing Kids and the Don Bosco Hall to provide students who attend schools in Detroit with after school programs, such as tutoring programs and dinners.
“It doesn’t matter whether you have parents or not, if the parents are too busy for you, if they’re not there as a role model, if they’re not there advising you in life, then they’re not doing their job as parents,” Dubaisi said. “A lot of these kids have parents, but they still end up on the streets, and that’s why we still consider them kids that we can help.”
They have created a project called Kids for Kindness, which they expected to be completed by the end of February. It includes using the organization’s money from fundraising to provide backpacks full of supplies.
“In regards to WSU, we have an exceptional opportunity in an urban community,” Jaffry said.
In March, SOR has plans to collaborate with Books for a Benefit. The nonprofit organization hopes to lower educational disadvantages and build a library for kids.
After that is finished, Dubaisi said the organization has plans for an urban garden at the Don Bosco location in April.
“These kids have so much potential…they can do things they don’t have the resources for, that’s what they’re missing: the resources. It’s important for us to spend time with them, to see that they have potential, so we can give them resources and give them connections,” Dubaisi said.
SOR’s projects often require assistance. Dubaisi said acquiring volunteers is difficult because people are interested in helping organizations when their projects are ongoing, and SOR needs volunteers before the projects start.
Dubaisi said they need committed volunteers who can help the children once a week for the duration of their school year to establish strong relationships through mentoring; tutoring and providing them with a familiar face they can count on.
Dourra said one of SOR’s main purposes is not only to provide students with resources they need but to also encourage other organizations around Detroit to do the same.
“We hope to inspire some local leaders in the community to work on the same wave-length [as SOR] and hopefully leave a positive legacy in the city of Detroit that way we can see our impact that we made with these kids,” he said.
SOR will be hosting a benefit gala on March 24. Tickets are $25 for students and $40 for the general public. All proceeds will go towards SOR's medical and health relief campaign, where they are raising money to provide for disabled orphans in Beirut with medical supplies and healthcare. For more information, please visit the event page.
To get involved you, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.