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Teenagers are thanked for fundraising effort
Syrian children forced to flee their homes ripped apart by fighting have been visited by two Bradford teenage fundraisers who have raised more than £100,000 for a charity helping displaced refugees.
Khalil Benkhalil, of Bierley, and Qais Khaliq, both aged 19, work as part-time fundraisers for the Human Relief Foundation (HRF) which pays for food for those in nine refugee camps in Jordan. They raised £76,000 during the month of Ramadan with treks to Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and mosque and street collections.
Khalil said that in that month alone he managed to raise £20,000 with street collections, £16,000 with Ben Nevis and £40,000 by collecting in mosques throughout the UK.
The pair headed to Jordan for Christmas courtesy of HRF in recognition of their fundraising work and so they could see first hand how their money is spent at two of the camps.
Khalil, who is studying chemistry for medicine development, at Bradford University, said that the visit had made him even more determined to continue with his charity work.
“It was eye-opening to be honest,” he said.
“We get thanked for what we do but it is nothing compared to seeing them smile. It is three years of hard work grafting and the sleepless nights actually pays off and makes a difference. The children have been in these camps for nine months and they are getting agitated and we are able to give them food and water and help them lead normal lives.
“This trip made me realise how important our work is and I don’t think I could give it up. I just wouldn’t feel right.”
Qais, whose father is Councillor Ghazanfer Khaliq, a former Lord Mayor of Bradford, said that he was inspired by trips to Pakistan with his father to help those in need.
The Bradford University student, who lives in Thornbury and studies biomedical science, said: “One of the refugee camps had more than 1,000 people in it and they share about 100 portacabins,” he said.
“You had basic food in a half-full fridge to feed up to eight families and that shocked me. The last thing I would ever want to do is give this job up.”
Sarah Gate, of HRF, said it worked with Syrian refugees in partnership with the World Food Programme.
“Our main programme is a food distribution programme, which works in partnership with local stores to supply Syrian refugees with food vouchers,” she said.
“They can use these vouchers to purchase whatever they want – which gives them control over their own diets. It also feeds into the Jordanian economy, which is struggling to cope with the hundreds and thousands of refugees currently living in the country.”
You can donate to the Syrian Aid appeal or sign up to be a volunteer by visiting hrf.co.uk.