Out in the open for charity

Staff Reporter
Filed on March 15, 2013
Out in the open for charity

Seven students from the Canadian University have slept outdoors, on sleeping bags, for the last five days and relied solely on food hand-outs from fellow students.

Kareem Fahmy, Issam Kassabieh, Tiwa Ompe, Javan Wada, Shabbir Furniturewala, Mussaddiq Hassan and Ahmed Qarjouli took part in Five Days For The Homeless — an initiative by a charity that creates awareness and raises money for the homeless. Money raised by students in this initiative will be donated to the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children.

Issam Kassabieh, 21, student of finance and accounting believes the experience will benefit him, as well as charity: “It’s something to talk to people about in the future. If something comes up in conversation about homeless people, you can share it because you’ve had a solid experience — it’s not just based on statistics or something you read on the Internet.”

Out in the open for charity (/assets/oldimages/charity-1403.jpg)

Students of the Canadian University all set to sleep outdoors. — Supplied photos

He added: “It will be very tough, but that’s okay because we know that there is an end to it and that’s where our experience is different from actual homeless people who don’t have any hope at all other than through charities like this one.”

Five Days For The Homeless gives students an insight into what it would be like to be without a home. On top of sleeping outside with only a sleeping bag, the experience will test the students by placing them in morally uncomfortable situations.

“All the money we raise and all the food we eat will be got by asking people for it and that will be a real test for me personally,” said 19-year-old Javan Wada who is from Nigeria and is studying architecture. “It’s like you are degrading yourself and it will be difficult because of that. But the truth is that nobody wants to beg and it gives us an insight into what it’s like to be homeless.” Jordanian Ahmed Qarjouli, thinks it will be difficult for other reasons: “We are very spoiled here, so I think some people will break down” he said. “We’re used to eating well, drinking water whenever we want and we don’t really know what it’s like to live on the streets and live under bridges eating whatever we can. We live very privileged lives and it’s important not to forget that.”

The Five Days For The Homeless initiative was launched at the University of Alberta School of Business in 2005. Co-founder Frank Callele who now lives in the UAE says: “It’s amazing how difficult it is by day three or four because your body gets worn out,” he said. “If you don’t eat or sleep properly you get fatigued physically and mentally. They will start to doubt themselves because they will hear ‘no’ so many times, but then someone may give them some money or some food and say ‘good job’, and they will realise why they’re doing it.

“One of the best things from my point of view is watching the students grow on a personal level. You will be able to see it when they document it because they will be writing a blog and that’s a great way to see the progression.”

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