Angaza Kwa Upendo

It means ‘shining for love’ in Swahili and it was the name of the WUSC (World University Services Canada) Gala that I was honoured to attend last Friday evening.

At this event, we were fundraising for, and raising awareness about, girls’ education in refugee camps around the world. The reason for this is that boys outnumber girls 4:1 in schools in refugee camps and we are hoping to provide solar lamps, remedial classes and other tools to help girls in the camps attain their goals.

At the gala, sponsor students shared their stories about life growing up in refugee camps and what they have done in getting to Canada. Above all, their speeches reinforced just how amazing they are and how lucky I am to be a part of UVic’s Student Refugee Program (SRP).

That is what makes WUSC somewhat unique at UVic; we see the very real results of our actions and have the privilege of meeting the students that we have sponsored.

This is something that the students were generous enough to share with everyone who attended the gala – the trials and tribulations of growing up in a refugee camp in Thailand and then earning a position as a sponsored student to come to Canada.

As they always do with their usual eloquence, the presenters dispelled any notions that their sponsorship was anything resembling a handout. After all, they wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t already worked very hard and shown themselves to be extremely capable students (in both academics and non-academics).

Since the students that are sponsored are from around the globe (Kenya, Thailand, Jordan, Lebanon, Malawi and Malaysia), it has exposed me to a variety of cultures and ideas that I might never have experienced otherwise.

Oh, and by the by, as a UVic student, $2.50 of my student fees each term goes towards UVic’s SRP which is where sponsored students get the scholarship money to afford their first year at UVic. I think this is awesome because, just by attending UVic, students are making a difference. So give yourselves a pat on the back UVic readers –  thanks for the support!

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