Canadian Couple Gives Up Big Wedding To Help Syrian Refugees

Credit: The Star
Credit: The Star

When the image of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, who had drowned along with several family members in a desperate attempt to reach Europe in September, went viral earlier this year, it drew attention to the Syrian refugee crisis like no other photo before it had.

For the first time, people all over the globe were forced to look at what is going on in the Middle East. One such couple was Samantha Jacks and Farzin Yousefian of Toronto, Canada.

The duo had been planning their March 2016 wedding for over a year when the photo of Kurdi’s body shocked the world. 

Already aware of the crisis, the photo had them re-thinking their wedding plans.

They told The Star that the photo “was a turning point, in the sense that we knew this was a perfect time to act. We knew that people were aware of the issue because (the photo) had made such an impact and brought the issue to the fore … We wanted to build on the momentum of that photo. It was a tragic circumstance, and we couldn’t fail to act.”

So, spurred to action, they decided to replace their big day with a small event at City Hall (which took place last month) and have their wedding reception double as a fundraising event to sponsor a Syrian family of four.

Fortunately for them, their original wedding venue refunded their deposit, which helped them toward their $27,000 fundraising goal. 

So far, about $17,500 has been raised.

Said Yousefian:

“We felt we had an obligation, in light of the humanitarian crisis, to contribute, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to do that. The joy we received from celebrating our wedding with family and friends would be amplified if we could use that as a platform to give back at the same time.”

Jackson began working as a volunteer coordinator at Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge earlier this year, which works with other post-secondary institutions to help resettle Syrian refugees in the GTA. Her involvement has made her very empathetic to the situation many Syrian families are in.

“When the opportunity came to be involved with the project, to let Canadians act directly and responsibly to the humanitarian crisis, I knew I couldn’t say no,” said Jackson. “It was the opportunity to do something tangible and meaningful. It was something I couldn’t pass up.”

They relayed to The Star that once the decision was made to change the wedding plans, there were no thoughts of turning back. They knew it was exactly what they wanted to do.

If you would like to get involved, donations can be made by visiting , and selecting Yousefian and Jackson’s profile under “Fundraising Team Leads” in the “Team Leads” section.

The couple’s kindness is proof that there are good people in the world willing to do what they can. In fact, a Turkish couple invited 4,000 Syrian refugees to their reception after their nuptial earlier this year

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