Thousands of toys have been collected in aid of Syrian children who have been affected by the on-going conflict, thanks to a Leicester College staff member.
Sharen Ravat, the Multi Faith Chaplaincy Coordinator at the college launched a toy appeal after witnessing the harrowing stories of Syria on the news. Sharen explained “I decided to organise the campaign after being touched by the plight of children in Syria, many of whom have lost their loved ones, been injured, made homeless or just lost hope. I am hoping that by offering toys to children, it puts a smile on their faces.”
Picture credit: Will Johnston
People (left to right): Revd Sonya Brown, Sharen Ravat and Suleman Nagdi.
Sharen encouraged staff and learners at the college to donate toys which soon started a public appeal and through her work with faith communities, members of various religions stepped forth to join in. From Leicester Cathedral to Leicester’s Progressive Jewish Congregation, the Federation of Muslim Organisations and Mosques, the outpouring of generosity has been incredible.
This joining together of faith inspired Sharen: “What was particularly heart-warming was that so many of Leicestershire’s different faith communities came together. Collectively they demonstrated their shared values of compassion and love for children who they will never know.”
The drop-off session took place on Sunday 4 August at St Philips Church, Evington Road and encouraged large numbers of citizens to come forward and donate, many inspired by the same images as Sharen. She explained “I’ve had amazing responses. A lady rang me to say her children wanted to donate their new Eid presents. Another man from Slough said he had a car filled with toys that he wanted to drop off. It has been fantastic.” There has been an estimated ten thousand toys donated, which has filled a staggering seven van loads.
The United Nations have called the conflict the worst humanitarian crisis since Rwanada, creating more than 1.5 million Syrian refuges. The collected toys will be passed on to the UK-based charity Hand in Hand for Syria who will distribute the donations to hospitals and refugee camps across the country.
Hand in Hand are one of the few charity organisations who are able to supply humanitarian aid in Syria, providing food, clothing and medical equipment to around 3450 families. Fadi Al-Dairi from the charity praised the donation drive and the city’s generosity “The people of Leicestershire will make a lot of children smile. Leicestershire is amazing with its people”.