Community & Culture

A Look at the Orphan Sponsorship Program

Understanding the concept of volunteering came to me very late in life. I initially hated how we had to do 40 hours of community service just to graduate high school. Now, in university, I find myself trying to give back in any way I can with time I can’t find. At some point in our education, it hits us that there is more to this world than just our school or city or even our country.

I’m sure we all received this little blurb in our emails not long ago from the RSU:

The Orphan Sponsorship Program at Ryerson University is a unique initiative founded by the Ryerson Muslim Student’s Association designed to unify, raise awareness and leave a positive impact for a humanitarian cause. Our charity partner is SOS Children’s Villages Canada.

Our campaign is called 30 for 30 (30 Days for 30 Orphans), and it stems from the legacy left behind by the previous year’s Orphan Sponsorship Program campaign, which successfully raised over $70,000 campus-wide. We wish to continue the beautiful journey that they started and build upon what has already been achieved. The campaign will be 30 days in length starting on January 18th, 2016 and ending on February 16th, 2016.

I had the pleasure to meet with Sayara, a second-year chemical engineering student and president of OSP 2016, and get down to some nitty-gritty of her team’s work.

Sayara described OSP as an interactive way for students to come together for a good cause, make cool pledges to get tattoos, piercings, crazy hairdos, and wear colourful costumes if their pledges are matched.

It was only last year that t12622319_1669630236633050_3720375643182962361_ohe team branched out of the Muslim Students Association and got all the Ryerson staff, unions, and faculties involved. By doing so, they exceeded their goal to raise $30,000 to over $70,000. This year, the bar is even higher. Ten thousand dollars higher – for a grand total of $80K. With 40 members, OSP 2016 has already reached the halfway point at over $41,915. The Pangea Charity Gala alone added a whopping $19K to the total. The campaign has until the 16th of February to meet their final goal.

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During these recent weeks, they have done everything from pie throwing launch parties to collaborating with other student groups, to getting Mayor John Tory and even Prime Minister Trudeau’s attention.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) poses for a photo with people in the crowd as Toronto Mayor John Tory (right) looks on holds following a news conference in the rotunda at Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) poses for a photo with people in the crowd as Toronto Mayor John Tory (right) looks on holds following a news conference in the rotunda at Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, January 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

I asked Sayara why one should donate to OSP over other charities, and with a very satisfying feeling, she answered: “Because it is student involved. The donations help students to keep doing what they do, now and later in their lives as change-makers. Students are getting experiences by working with different people for one unified cause. One goal keeps people intact. You’re helping students develop and grow professionally at Ryerson by donating across the world.”

She emphasized the need to help without comparing who is worthy of your donation over another. There are programs for Toronto needs just as there are ones to help internationally. Helping internationally does not mean you’re ignoring Toronto. One can’t ignore or compare one with the other. We empathize with people all around the world. We are global citizens before we are Canadians or Torontonians.

“What if the person you sponsor becomes someone amazing – it will give you a peace of mind to know you had a small hand to play in that. You’re changing the lives of the sponsored child and the people around them.”

OSP’s biggest accomplishment is that everyone is engaged, it’s brought students from all faculties and cultures together for one cause.

To find out more, visit OSP’s website via Ryerson MSA, and to support them, go to: https://www.giveffect.com/campaigns/1625-30-days-for-orphans.

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Zahra Khozema
A 3rd year RTA student and a life loving Torontonian who loves to globe-hop from time to time. Writer of fun and useful articles, maker of cool things, terrible singer of lovely songs. A must have galpal.