First Avenue Syrian Relief Assembly
“A Lesson in Love”
First Avenue Middle School demonstrated “A Lesson in Love” in a lunchtime event for UNICEF and their efforts to help Syrian refugees, especially children. The idea began when Dr. Semeen Issa, the assistant principal, shared her heart with the staff about the horrible situation in Syria. She writes:
“The Syrian Refugee crisis is taking place as we speak, which means that of the 4 million people who have fled Syria, half of them are children. Let me say that this has nothing to do with a person's faith or nationality, but everything to do with compassion for the human race. What has deeply affected me is the number of children who have perished in this very overwhelming exodus due to war and political unrest. Syrian parents feel there is no escape from the clear disregard for human life (torture, bombing, displacement) that surrounds them and what all children are witnessing in their home country, so they are willing to risk their lives to find a safe haven.”
The many articles and videos she cited showed the need for action by the global community. In an effort to teach his students that “When you love someone, (as they love Dr. Issa) the things that are important to them become important to you” music director Michael Danielson organized students for a relief effort. Out of that love and their caring for the children of Syria, First Avenue presented a lunchtime event to bring this issue to the forefront and to raise both awareness and funds to help the refugees. Dr. Issa spoke emotionally about the outpouring of support for people half a world away. The concert included the First Avenue Choir, Orchestra, Band and Rock Band in “We are the World” and a “lunch challenge” asking students and faculty to put a dollar amount on their lunch for that day and make a corresponding monetary contribution to help the children of Syria. Danielson said “It is important for our students to understand that they are a part of the world community and that they have power to effect change. We hope that others will follow their lead”. The school raised almost $1400 for UNICEF.
Dr. Issa added “I truly appreciate your love and compassion for all children. My children are half Syrian from their father's side and we have family there, so you can imagine the helpless feeling wondering what is happening to family and friends as they try to flee the war torn country. The stories we have heard are heart wrenching.”
Donations may be sent to www.crowdrise.com/unicef-refugee.