Students Organize for Syria set up a refugee tent walk-through at the Plaza of the Americas on the University of Florida campus Monday to show other students what conditions are like for millions of refugees.
SOS is a student-led group dedicated to shedding light on the civil war in Syria, which is now into its eighth year.
Its mission is to increase awareness, provide relief and to stand in solidarity with those being impacted.
“You know ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is a very real thing and as students we can’t go overseas and see the conditions that Syrians are living in,” said Mariam Elsafty, SOS Vice President. “This is the next best thing.”
Some who stopped by the tent have been able to experience these conditions firsthand, however.
Isabella Bobadilla volunteered through Lighthouse Relief last summer and spent a month in a refugee camp in Greece.
“I’ve been studying migration here at UF for about a year and the reason I went was because I would study all this in a book or just different articles and I wanted to go see you, you know,” Bobadilla said. “I keep talking about it or writing papers on it, but I’d never even met a refugee. I went and it completely changed my whole perspective on the topic.”
The display in the Plaza of the Americas consisted of just a tent and a few basic items, like a pillow, blanket, and clothesline.
“Someone commented ‘well, this isn’t much of a walk-through’ and that’s the thing,” Elsafty said. “There isn’t really that much space and we want to show how overcrowded it is and how dehumanizing these conditions are.”
SOS hopes students will be inspired to learn more and become engaged about Syria.