It’s been a month and half since a group of students in Greater Boston launched the campaign for Urban Refuge, an app designed to help refugees, on a Boston University crowdfunding platform. The campaign was a great success, Urban Refuge Director of Community Outreach Meaghan Delaney wrote in an email.
The campaign, which originally set its crowdfunding goal at $15,000, officially closed on Sunday. With 181 donors who pitched in amounts from $1 to $5,000, the campaign fundraised $17,810.
“We are very happy we were able to reach that goal together as a team,” Delaney, a sophomore in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, wrote. “Crowdfunding was a great option for the Boston University and greater Boston community to get involved and know more about our project.”
Delaney wrote that the next step is to pilot their app in Amman, Jordan, where the team hopes to connect urban refugees with local assistance.
“The app also provides links to online resources such as jobs boards, informal and formal education programs, and legal rights information,” Delaney said.
The project started from a class in Pardee where several students were passionate about the refugee crisis and wanted to help out in some way. None of them had experience in business or technology, but they felt creating this app was one of the few ways that they could be directly involved in helping with this crisis, according to the crowdfunding website.
Pardee Dean Adil Najam said the school strives to get its students involved in global affairs. It’s becoming increasingly important to have a cognizant mind about what is happening in the world today, Najam said, which is exactly what the Urban Refuge’s crowdfunding campaign helped its students do.
“This was something that we’ve encouraged in all of our classes to make [students] more connected to the real world, to make them more linked to the real world,” Najam said.
Najam said the Syrian refugee crisis is a huge problem in the world, and he hopes this app will make a difference for those who were forced to leave their hometown.
“That’s the world we live in, and the challenges are very big,” Najam said. “I wish you could make an app, and the challenge would go away. But, I hope very much that this will help, that this will be one small step in making the lives of people and refugees slightly better if they use it.”
Several students said that understanding global affairs is important for college students, and they are proud that some of their fellow classmates are dedicated to the global refugee crisis.
Meghana Gavireddygari, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and Pardee, said she’s glad the university provides students with opportunities to make a significant difference.
“People like options,” she said. “If that’s something you’re interested in or passionate about, it’s good [that BU provides options].”
Nicholas Fuentes, a CAS freshman, said the app is a resourceful way to help refugees in Jordan settle in somewhere close to their homeland.
“The best solution to the refugee crisis is to keep the refugees near or around their home countries so that they can be resettled,” Fuentes said. “That’s better for the west and better for the Islamic world.”
Fuentes said it’s essential for students on campus to know about global affairs.
“More BU students should be involved in international affairs,” Fuentes said. “[It] is important that people are aware of what’s going on in the planet.”
Sasha Naidu, a junior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she believes that the app is a great resource for refugees who aren’t able to access what they need.
“It’s a really nice idea,” Naidu said. “[This app gives] a little more connectivity for people who might not be able to get it in any other way.”