The Middle Eastern Student Association at Eastern Michigan University braved the cold temperatures Tuesday afternoon to raise student awareness about the Syrian civil war and display the daily suffering the eight million displaced Syrian refugees experience as result of the violence and political unrest that continues to plague their country. MESA members set up a model Syrian refugee tent outside the Student Center to show passing students exactly how these refugees are living.
Students explored the small canvas tent, which contained the bare necessities found in the typical Syrian refugee tent, such as small amounts of rice and lentils and a small, dirty water bucket.
MESA president Jenna Hamed explained that Syrian refugees have to make one bucket of water last for very long periods of time.
MESA members spent the afternoon, from 12:30-5 p.m., standing outside with the tent and passing out fliers with information about Syrian refugees and the civil war that has displaced them.
“They basically have no access to food or water,” MESA member Tasneem Gaballah said. “But the cold is killing them.”
Gaballah and another MESA member, Loujain Kouider, explained that they were braving the cold on
Tuesday to show support and to make a point, stating that they were just out in the cold for one day, while Syrian refugees live and die in the cold every day.
“This has been going on for four years,” Gaballah said.
According to Gaballah and Kouider, the cold isn’t the only thing killing Syrian refugees. With all of the violence and political unrest in Syria, many refugee camps find themselves in the crossfire.
“Their situation is really very dire. The president is killing people and there are bombings every other day,” Kouider said. “We are here to make people aware of that.”
Hamed said that MESA was not asking for any donations or raising any money with their display.
Instead, she said their goal was to inform EMU students about the Syrian conflicts and the suffering of the Syrian people.
“We are planting a seed,” Hamed said. “We want to encourage peers to look at the news, post about this online and on social media … really spread the word, because as Americans, we have to power to intervene and to help.”
Hamed said her main goal is to show people they have the power to help, and hopes that as more people become informed about the violence, political unrest and suffering in Syria, a larger portion of the public can put pressure on American leaders to reach out to the Syrian people.
“This has been called the worst human crisis of our time. You might not read about this today, but someday we’ll read about it in history books,” Hamed said. “Just because the crisis is happening in another country doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you. We are all human.”
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