According to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank based out of Washington D.C., the United States admitted nearly 85,000 refugees in the 2016 fiscal year—35,000 of whom identified as Muslim. As many of you remember, Trump’s campaign rhetoric surrounding refugees was less than warm. This, combined with the administration’s anti-immigration stance and one of the greatest refugee crises in recent human history has left much of the leg-work in refugee assimilation up to individuals, communities, and organizations across the U.S. One such individual is Ramah Aleryan—a Colorado College first-year from Egypt.
“At the end of Block Four I was very concerned with what was happening in Aleppo, Syria, and the lack of interest and awareness at CC,” said Aleryan. “So, I began tabling in Worner, and ended up raising $500 to send to a refugee aid organization in Syria.”
What originally began as a fundraiser in response to the Syrian crisis has turned into a campus-wide partnership with the CC Refugee Alliance. Joining the national movement, the club meets on the first and third Tuesday of each block. Since the beginning of the semester, Aleryan and the CC Refugee Alliance have been organizing fundraisers and encouraging the CC community to support Lutheran Family Services (LFS), a nonprofit committed to serving refugees resettled in Colorado.
“Instead of sending funds to a national or international organization, we work with Lutheran Family Services because it is local,” said Aleryan. “It is often hard to raise funds for local organizations, and they serve the entire state.”
Responsible for all refugees resettled in Colorado, Lutheran Family Services helps refugees assimilate to life in the United States. Whether it be moving a family in, assisting with a job search, teaching English, or simply providing support, LFS’s volunteers and staff members provide much needed aid to the Colorado refugee community. LFS depends on donations to ensure it can meet the full needs of refugees. Although President Trump’s Executive Order titled “Protection of The Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States—” more commonly known in the liberal media as the “Muslim Ban”—was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Trump administration has expressed plans to significantly limit the amount of refugees allowed into the country.
In response to the budget cuts—and by extension the current political climate—both the CC Refugee Alliance and LFS have increased their fundraising efforts at CC and in the greater Colorado Springs area. On Mondays and Thursdays, students can find Aleryan and other members of the CC Refugee Alliance tabling in Worner, raising awareness for LFS and collecting donations. Both cash and Venmo (@Stand4Refugees) are accepted. Additionally, LFS has launched a T-shirt campaign. At $20 per shirt, all proceeds benefit LFS and its efforts to support incoming refugees.