In Swahili, Harambee means to “all pull together.” On April 23, VIU’s local World University Service of Canada (WUSC) committee will be doing just this at their annual Harambee Gala dinner.

To date, the VIU WUSC Local Committee has sponsored 12 students from Somalia and South Sudan through the Student Refugee Program (SRP). In the fall, they will sponsor their first student from Syria.

This event will fundraise for the three sponsored refugee students that will come to VIU from Africa and Syria in the fall through the SRP.

“There is certainly added hype and pressure for this year’s gala because we are increasing the number of sponsored students coming next fall,” said VIU WUSC co-chair Jessyca Idi. “It means that we need even more support—not only financially—from students and faculty as well as the community outside campus. It’s an expression of celebration, but also of gratitude for those who support the SRP and to inspire a progressive continuation of the program.”

With the goal to raise $3K, the Harambee event will feature a four-course dinner, a silent auction, fair trade sales, and live music by a local band.

“Harambee Gala is our biggest fundraiser for the SRP at VIU, and that has always been our focus,” said Idi. “Nonetheless, the evening is also an opportunity for students, faculty, and community members to network and learn about the program in a relaxed and joyful atmosphere. It is a very special evening for everyone to show their support and have a good time.”

WUSC provides financial and social support to students who previously grew up in refugee camps. WUSC’s SRP is one of few options available to students in refugee camps looking to pursue post-secondary education.

The event will be held at the Cavallotti Hall (2060 Wellington Rd.). Doors will open at 6 p.m., with dinner (vegetarian options available) served at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $55 for community members or $45 for students, and table rates will soon be announced. There will be no tickets sold at the door.

Students are welcome to volunteer at the event. There are limited positions available, but everyone is welcome to apply.

You can RSVP on the Harambee Gala Dinner 2016 Facebook event, and contact the VIU WUSC Local Committee via email to request tickets or apply to volunteer. Stay updated with WUSC’s initiatives by “liking” their Facebook page, VIU WUSC Local Committee.