Students Organize 4 Syria ended its Syrian Solidarity Week with an information session on the Syrian refugee crisis on March 23.
The information session consisted of a discussion with Syrian American Rescue Network representative and administrator Roze Kadri.
Kadri said according to the U.N., Michigan has the fourth highest immigrant population in the nation with 4,000 resettled refugees, 2,000 of which are Syrians displaced by the Syrian civil war. Half are women and children.
“This isn’t just a Syrian problem, or a Muslim problem,” Kadri said. “It’s a human problem. When you think about it, we’re all immigrants, in a way.”
Kadri said SARN is a “grassroots volunteer-sustained organization that aims to provide humanitarian and economic support to refugees as they reach self-sustainability in Michigan.”
According to its website, SARN was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit organization to help refugees resettle in Michigan, mainly Detroit, through cultural and financial support along with the use of programs like employment services, housing, English education, transportation and health services.
Kadri said that SARN has been primarily focusing on Syria and Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war and the mass exodus from the country, but also said SARN doesn’t discriminate in providing aid based on religion, ethnicity or nationality.
During the information session, Kadri presented a lecture about SARN and the statistics and struggles of refugees. She said most of the myths about refugees were incorrect and outlined how students could help SARN with their mission.
At one point, she quoted the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to describe the situation of those coming from Syria and surrounding countries.
“Give me your poor, your tired…if that doesn’t describe a Syrian refugee, I don’t know what does,” Kadri said. “These people come here with injuries, mental health issues, no money to their names, having faced horrible situations and they just need help, above all.”
Kadri presented opportunities for WSU students to give time and effort to organizations like SARN by helping at resource distribution centers, being translators for families that don’t speak English and providing tutoring for refugee children.
Students can also train to become case workers for families and directors for cultural programs such as art and music therapy for children.
According to its website, becoming a volunteer for SARN includes training and background checks to join aid committees.
Engineering major Sayeed Ashan said the training is worth it to become a volunteer.
“I helped out at a distribution center before, and it was a great experience,” Ashan said. “You’re face to face with people who have nothing but gratitude for what you’re doing for them. It makes you feel good.”
Kadri said SARN was “desperate for volunteers, and always willing to accept new faces.”
“It’s so simple to mesh your studies and any service learning you might have to do with volunteering,” Kadri said. “So many of our student volunteers do, [and] everybody wins.”
SOS President Amal Rass said she felt Syrian Solidarity Week went well overall, and she was grateful for Kadri’s information and time.
“As long as people are made aware of the problem and show that they’re willing to help, we’re doing our job,” Rass said. “Roze was great and I hope some of us will really consider volunteering.”