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'More than a fundraiser' for Syrian refugees

Talia Mimilo
Crowd at Songs for Syria
A great turnout at the Songs for Syria fundraiser  Talia Mimilo

The event highlighted the importance of Cantabrians standing in solidarity with Syrian refugees

More than 250 people gathered at the Cardboard Cathedral on Tuesday for a night of jazz and refugee story sharing in support of those suffering in Syria's current war crisis.

The World Vision event 'Songs for Syria' was co-organised by church worker Simon Hart and teacher aide Callum Steward-Ward, two ordinary men who felt like they needed to respond to the Syrian civil conflict when they saw the news coverage. 

Callum Steward-Ward said seeing such a big turnout was inspiring because it showed that Christchurch cared, "We underestimated how many people would actually show, we even had to bring out more chairs to put at the back."

Callum said that it's great to raise money but its also about making people aware so we can stand in solidarity with our Syrian brothers and sisters in a time of need.

He said that due to earthquakes, Christchurch has experienced collective trauma. "It's pain but it brings people together."

"If anyone can understand what it's like to suffer as a people, it's the people of Christchurch," Callum said.

Songs For Syria
Simon Hart leading the jazz band at the Songs for Syria fundraiser Talia Mimilo

Simon Hart also said that Cantabrians can connect with some of the trauma. "It's important for the people of Christchurch to respond to what's happening in the Middle East because of all the love we received when we needed it after the quakes." 

The event raised more than $4,000 which will go towards getting more support for children in refugee camps.

Chelsea Yeoman, a World Vision Youth Ambassador, travelled to Jordan in late 2015 and visited the Azraq refugee camp. "Syrian kids have missed out on so much of their childhood, and putting child friendly spaces in the camps will help give back a part of that childhood they've lost," Chelsea said.

The child friendly spaces will provide counselling for children suffering with trauma, a platform for education so children can be learning again, but most importantly it will give them a hope for a better future. 

The money raised from the upcoming World Vision 40-hour famine in June will be going towards the child friendly spaces in refugee camps. 

World Vision said that more than 8.4 million children have been affected by the Syrian civil war.

Philip Sapsford from World Vision