A quick Google search led first-year international student Ruth Hadgu to start fundraising to help bring relief to families in Syria and Iraq.
Hadgu is rasing money for Preemptive Love Coalition, a non-governmental organization that brings food, water and medical care to people in disaster and conflict situations.
After Hadgu’s Facebook feed was flooded on Feb. 25 with news of a bombing in the country, she felt helpless.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it at night. Because while I’m sleeping here, they’re living under the constant threat of being bombed every night,” she said.
Hadgu grew up in Addis Ababa, and did not experience the hardships others in Ethiopia faced, like drought, poverty and HIV. But she grew up watching her father, a humanitarian aid worker for the United Nations, travel to the outskirts of Ethiopia and help those in crisis.
“Because of that, I’ve grown up aware of the situation around me.”
She has always been empathetic of others and did volunteer work while growing up in Ethiopia. She hopes to create her own NGO eventually and work for the UN.
Following the aftermath of the rape and death of Hanna Lalango in Addis Ababa in 2014, she organized a peaceful demonstration at her high school. She and other students protested on social media using #JusticeforHanna.
“I can’t just pass when I see this stuff. I’ve always wanted to raise awareness. Even if you can’t help, but at least know what’s happening out there.”
On March 1, Hadgu decided she would find a way to help those fleeing Syria.
“I literally Googled ‘what can I do right now to help Syria?’ and the answer was pretty obvious: donate. That’s the simplest and [most] achievable thing that I can do right now.”
She was planning on going out to eat with friends for her birthday on March 11, but instead asked them to gift her the money they would have spent so she could donate it to the organization.
Hadgu has also spoken to peers in her classes and asked them to give anything they can to the cause.
She has raised approximately $100 so far and contributed $100 of her own money, for a total of $200 of her $500 goal. She wants to bring in as much as she can for the organization.
“Sometimes it’s the matter of a dollar that decides if person can leave or not … it could actually save a life.”