On 9 May 2016, a fundraising initiative by the Said and Asfari Foundations, the Hands Up for Syria Appeal, concluded with £4 million raised from generous donors. This amount was matched pound for pound by the Foundations, making a fund of £8 million for the education of internally displaced and refugee Syrians.
The total was announced by Wafic Said at an event to thank donors. The principal guests were the British Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon David Cameron; the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband; and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador, actor Cate Blanchett. HRH the Prince of Wales also sent a congratulatory video message.
The money was collected on behalf of the Said and Asfari Foundations by the Hands Up Foundation. It will be equally divided between the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Save the Children; organisations that have significant experience in educational provision for refugees and the internally displaced. The result is that young individuals within Syria, as well as Syrians in neighbouring countries, will have improved access to pre-schools, schools, teachers, books, pens and other learning materials, vocational training and university scholarships.
A joint statement from the Chairmen of the Foundations, Wafic Said and Ayman Asfari, said:
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors. We know that our beneficiary organisations will use this generosity to transform the lives of thousands of children. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting the determination of Syria’s young people to rebuild their lives through education.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron commented:
“As a result of the brutal conflicts in Syria, Syria’s children have lost their right to an education; currently nearly 3 million of them are not in school. The international community must come together to deliver an education for Syria’s victims and help this lost generation find a future.
We’ve already achieved a great deal in providing education opportunities for Syrian refugee children, with 250,000 Syrians now back in the classroom in Lebanon and nearly every Syrian child in Jordan in school. But I want us to do more, and that’s what I’m urging everyone to commit to, today.”
David Miliband said:
"The generosity of the Said and Asfari Foundations, and of all of those who have supported the Hands up for Syria Appeal, will enable the International Rescue Committee, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Save the Children to make a sustainable difference for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children currently out of school. With these funds we will help young kids to overcome the trauma of war, enable them to get an education and have their hopes of graduation and careers restored, and support scores of Syrian refugees to complete degrees at universities in Lebanon and Jordan. On behalf of the many people we will be able to help, I say a heartfelt thank you.”
Speaking of her recent meetings with Syrian refugee families in Jordan, Cate Blanchett said:
“When I asked parents what hopes they held for the future, their message was clear: for their children to have an education, not just primary education but secondary and on to tertiary. …We cannot allow a whole generation to be lost; uneducated, disenfranchised, alienated. For how will Syria ultimately rebuild without engineers, doctors, teachers, accountants, without journalists, artists… The funds raised by the Appeal are protecting that vital right to education, giving Syrian refugee children a future, giving Syria a future.
A video of the appeal can be viewed here.
Details on the organisations involved in the appeal can be viewed here.
Wafic Said addressing guests at the Hands Up for Syria event