Refugee Alliance strives to help refugee children for the future

The Refugee Alliance plays games and tutors local kids

Refugee Alliance is an ASU club that strives to help refugee children within the community and show them how to create a better future for themselves.

During the fall semester, the Refugee Focus, a Phoenix refugee organization, connected the club with Canyon point, an apartment complex in west Phoenix that houses refugees from many different countries who often have few resources. 

This past February, the club began taking trips to the complex to help the refugees, who are brand new to the U.S., integrate into the community.

Co-president Mulki Mehari, a global health junior and one of the three leaders in the club, said most of the refugees are there because they were kicked out of their homelands during war, drought, political instability or other crises.

“They are here because they have to be," Mehari said. "Not because they want to be."

While at the apartment complex, the club's focus is on getting the refugee children active by playing different games and music.

Club members play soccer, do different obstacle games and speak to the children in English to help them learn and feel more at home in their new community.

“With these children, I see an opportunity to mentor them and lessen their path of hardships,” Mehari said. “Giving them even a smile gives them a sense that you care, gives them hope.”

They are also working on tutoring the children in the subjects they learn at school. However, the complex does not provide space for them to teach, so they are looking for nearby classrooms and churches to turn into a classroom.

Zouheir Ridouani, a biochemistry junior and another co-president of the club, said at times it is difficult for the children because there is a language barrier between them and people outside of the apartment complex. However, they always try to integrate English into all of their activities to help them learn.

“Most of the kids are in middle and high school, and we mostly want to help them, especially with their English, because most of them struggle,” said Ridouani.

The club’s hope is that if they help the kids build a future for themselves, they will pass on their skills they learn to their families.

As well as the activities with children, the club tries to support refugees in a variety of ways, including a series of bake sales on and around the ASU campus. Their latest event was a Syrian bake sale on Hayden Lawn featuring a variety of Syrian pastries, aiming to normalize the culture of the refugees in Arizona. 

Refugee Alliance is open to any ASU student who wants to help the children of Canyon Point. Before they enter, they have to fill out an application and go through a background check, for the safety of the refugees.

Co-president Haya Sweidan, a psychology junior, said the group needs new members as they expand to support a growing refugee community. 

“We want people passionate about the cause that Refugee Alliance stands for," said Sweidan. "We want people that, once the kids see them, they look up to them.” 


Reach the reporter at editomass@asu.edu or follow @emily_ditomasso on Twitter.

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