Raising hope: Feminist club fundraises for Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program

Selling+an+%E2%80%9CI+STAND+WITH+REFUGEES%E2%80%9D+wrist+band+to+junior+Jon+Ma+during+second+lunch%2C+junior+Sabrina+Bohn+and+sophomore+Ulaa+Kuziez+raise+awareness+for+the+Immigrant+and+Refugee+Women%E2%80%99s+Program.+The+feminist+club+voted+earlier+in+the+year+to+provide+money+to+that+group+in+order+to+expand+their+impact+on+the+global+community.+%E2%80%9CLast+semester+we+had+a+group+vote+between+three+different+charities.+We+had+one+that+was+a+women%27s+shelter+that+helped+women+who+experienced+domestic+abuse%2C+the+Immigrant+and+Refugee+Women%E2%80%99s+program+and+another+women%27s+shelter+with+a+different+focus.+The+group+members+voted+and+decided+on+the+Immigrant+and+Refugee+program+to+bring+awareness%2C+not+just+in+our+community+and+school%2C+but+to+a+bigger+world%2C%E2%80%9D+Bohn+said.+Photo+by+Kathryn+McAuliffe

Kathryn McAuliffe

Selling an “I STAND WITH REFUGEES” wrist band to junior Jon Ma during second lunch, junior Sabrina Bohn and sophomore Ulaa Kuziez raise awareness for the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program. The feminist club voted earlier in the year to provide money to that group in order to expand their impact on the global community. “Last semester we had a group vote between three different charities. We had one that was a women's shelter that helped women who experienced domestic abuse, the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s program and another women's shelter with a different focus. The group members voted and decided on the Immigrant and Refugee program to bring awareness, not just in our community and school, but to a bigger world,” Bohn said. Photo by Kathryn McAuliffe

A desire to take progressive action on the global issue of immigration and a refusal to remain complacent inspired Feminist club to hold their second fundraiser of the year to once again benefit the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program (IRWP), a local charity providing education to more than 380 immigrants in St. Louis.

Immigrants face difficult transitions that the IRWP attempts to soften by offering programs designed to help immigrants and refugees flourish.

“With current events that are happening, immigrants and refugees are often not respected and not given the help they need and sometimes not seen as human, which is something really upsetting. In every experience that women go through, they have to face a million other obstacles than men do, [although] I’m not saying that it’s harder, because men have different struggles,” Bohn said. “I’ve heard about children being separated from their families and I’ve heard a lot about sexual abuse happening within detention centers, that’s on my mind a lot [and]  it’s something that drew me to this charity.”

When contemplating what to sell for the second-semester fundraiser, sophomore Ulaa Kuziez offered to donate wristbands she had made with a friend to sell for the fundraiser.

When we think about refugees, we don’t often think about the individual people behind that word. So beyond just raising money for refugees in St. Louis, we wanted to raise awareness and uplift the image of refugees,”

— Ulaa Kuziez

My friend and I bought hundreds of wristbands in response to the global refugee crisis. We knew that there were many new refugee families in St. Louis and we wanted to do something to support them through their resettlement process. When we think about refugees, we don’t often think about the individual people behind that word. So beyond just raising money for refugees in St. Louis, we wanted to raise awareness and uplift the image of refugees,” Kuziez said.

The fundraiser ran April 15-18 in the cafeteria, where club members took turns selling the wristbands during lunch.

“I sold bracelets because I come from a family of immigrants and hearing what’s going on [in the news] is really important. I know the money is going to a good cause. It’s important to donate money to them because refugees and immigrants don’t have homes, or access to basic things they need, like normal human things we take for granted,” senior and club member Caleb Canatoy said. “I joined because somebody asked me to but then I realized that there are almost no guys there and feminism isn’t just a girls problem, then [I stayed because] they were doing good things.”

Combined with the profits from their first semester fundraiser, feminist club will be donating more than $200 to the IRWP. Funds donated to this program help buy school supplies, as well as funding English classes and childcare.

“This organization specifically helps women settle into our society and also earn the skills to get a job, it helps them speak English as well. I think that’s pretty important because when immigrants are able to come to America I think we should go a little bit further to help them be successful and set them up for success because they’ll most likely face discrimination for being who they are,” Bohn said.

Looking to future, and following a similar fundraiser first semester, Feminist Club hopes to increase service opportunities and fundraising methods.

In the future, I hope to continue to work with Feminist Club to engage our school in community service activities specific to social issues, whether that be through fundraisers or other types of activities,” Kuziez said.