Gala Dinner & Fundraiser To Benefit VIU’S Student Refugee Program

April 9, 2014 - 4:00am

The Vancouver Island University branch of WUSC (World University Service of Canada) will be hosting Harambee, an annual gala dinner to raise funds for the Student Refugee Program (SRP) at VIU, on Saturday, April 26. The VIU WUSC Local Committee aims to raise $8,000 from the evening to support the SRP at VIU.

The event takes place at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256 at 1630 Wellington Rd E in Nanaimo, with doors open at 6 pm.

The SRP is a unique youth-to-youth sponsorship program where Canadian university and college students sponsor student refugees to come to Canada and study at their post-secondary institution.

As refugees, these students have fled their homes due to fears of persecution or violence based on their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. Upon their arrival in Canada, these students are given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pursue their educational goals as Permanent Residents. WUSC’s Student Refugee Program is the only initiative of its kind in the world, making competition for a coveted sponsorship fierce in the refugee camps.

Since its founding at VIU in 2008, the WUSC Student Refugee Program has sponsored eight students to come pursue their studies in Nanaimo. These students come from the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya, having originally fled their homes in Somalia or South Sudan respectively.

Currently, VIU is only able to offer one year of sponsorship to two new students each year. After that, the students are expected to take on student loans and part-time work to fund their education in Canada.

Hamdi Haaji and Liz Aduu arrived from the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps last August, respectively.

“Please support the Student Refugee Program through WUSC”, Haaji says. “You will be helping ambitious students study at Canadian universities, instead of being forced to remain in the overcrowded refugee camps.” The world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, was initially planned to hold 90,000 people – it is now home to almost 500,000.

The Harambee Gala Dinner is VIU’s largest annual fundraiser for the Student Refugee Program on campus. Each year, a dedicated team of student volunteers comes together to put on this evening of fun, food and dance. A four-course meal will be served, including a vegetarian option, with live entertainment, Fair Trade sales, and a silent auction to add to the evening. The event is attended by local elected officials, VIU faculty and supportive community members, making it a fantastic networking opportunity.

Tickets are $55 general admission and $45 for students and are sold only in advance.

For tickets, email, or call or text Gabrielle Bishop at 250.739.2098, Natasha Buck at 250.741.6859, or Drissa Bouare at 250.797.2004.


For more information, please see:

Website: <>

Facebook event: <>


Media ContactGabrielle Bishop (Communications Chair, VIU WUSC Local Committee), 250-739-2098,

Tags: In the Community

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