Chico State club funds Syrian refugees


Calmena treasurer, Sultan Bin Meznh, talks about why he and his organization are putting their efforts toward helping Syrian refugees. Photo credit: Ryan Corrall

A group of Chico State students from the Creativity and Adaptive Leadership in Middle East and North America organization have started a fundraiser to aid Syrian refugees. Many Syrian refugees cannot leave the country to get away from the war in Syria that began five years ago. Known as the UNICEF Chico State campus initiative, with Dr. Yousefi, a Chico State history professor, as the organization’s teacher adviser. They want to get the word out about this issue and how Chico State students can help.

The UNICEF Chico State campus initiative is hoping to meet a $10,000 goal. The fundraiser has made a little more than $5,800 thanks to international economics and business project management major, Ashkaan Daneshi who donated $3,000 that he won in the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award. As someone who grew up in Iran, Daneshi understands the struggles millions of Syrian people face and wanted to help out.

However the fundraiser is not over yet. To meet its goal of $10,000, the campaign plans on putting multiple events together throughout the semester such as movie showings, a self-defense class, ball games, a masquerade ball and cultural events to receive donations from fellow Chico State students and faculty.

Roger Ramirez informs attendees of the crisis in Syria and his intentions for raising money. Photo credit: Ryan Corrall


Roger Ramirez, sophomore and mechanical engineering major, is the founder and president of the campaign and has been planning this fundraiser since last semester after joining the Calmena club on campus.

“It was for a project. We all sat down and asked: what’s the biggest issue going on right now and what can we do about it? It was easy,” Ramirez said. “The biggest Syrian refugee crisis since World War II and pretty much no one in school was doing anything about it, to help children and families. So we took it upon ourselves.”

Roger Ramirez, sophomore and mechanical engineering major, is the founder and president of the campaign. Photo credit: Bridget Comito


During this time, many Syrian people have little food, water, medical supplies, shelter or safety. This fundraiser is geared toward giving those things back to the Syrian people. The campaign even hopes to give Syrian children a chance at education that was lost during the war.

“We really have to show people how privileged we are. We can go to the store and buy food for a dollar. These kids don’t have that,” Ramirez said. “They are being shot at every day, their houses are gone, they’re living in poverty, they’re living in camps with millions of people, hardly getting any food.”

The campaign is backed by The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, a first time for any Chico State campaign. UNICEF stated that if the fundraiser meets the $10,000 goal, UNICEF will double that amount to give to the Syrian people.

“That pretty much wakes me up every day, keeps me going. To try to raise the money so these kids can have a decent meal every day or just have a blanket on their backs,” Ramirez said.

Kareem Altamini, a junior international student and a double major in project management and finance, became the project manager and co-founder of the fundraiser campaign this semester. Altamini’s family is from the Middle East and Altamini lived in Syria most of his life until he moved to Chico four years ago.

“You don’t know much about us and that’s understandable. We want you to know what’s really going on there, especially in the Middle East. You guys have a big misconception of what’s going on,” Altamini said. “Yes, there are some messed up things that people do, radicals and extremists but there are hundred, millions of people who are not related to this. They’re just victims of these instances and the political stuff that goes on.”

Kareem Altamini is an international student and the co-founder of the fundraising campaign on campus. Photo credit: Bridget Comito


“In Syria itself, has so many countries involved. It’s political and it’s crazy over there. It’s sad for those children, what’s happening to them,” Altamini said.

The media often paints the Syrian refugee crisis as an issue America should stay out of and that refugees should not come to America, but many are unaware that 16 million Syrian people need help. 7.6 million Syrian people are displaced in Syria and stuck in a warzone.

“The American media, when they talk about the Middle East, it’s usually not good stuff. As a guy from Saudi Arabia, I can say that,” Altamini said. “Mostly in the media what I hear is: terrorist, terrorist, terrorist. We’re not all like that. We’re talking about a small portion of the Muslim population that are radicals and the media doesn’t talk about the rest.”

This campaign simply gives aid to a group of people who are struggling everyday to stay alive. Donating money to the campaign would give Chico State a chance to make Syrian families’ lives a little easier.

At the UNICEF Chico State campus initiative information night on Feb. 17, the club shared videos clips about the war, what the Syrian children go through and information on how to help. For more information and how to donate visit the club’s Facebook page.

Bridget Comito can be reached at [email protected] or @bcineg1992 on Twitter.