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Middle East Relief Initiative plans fundraising gala

This Saturday, Nov. 18 from 8-11 p.m., the Middle East Relief Initiative (MERI) will be hosting a gala to showcase Middle Eastern culture and to raise funds for Baltimore’s chapter of the Soccer Without Borders (SWB) program.

The gala will feature Arabic music, dancing, food, and art in an attempt to promote the diverse culture of the Middle East. Throughout the night there will be a belly dancing performance, a henna artist, and speakers from SWB. All the proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to SWB.

SWB Program Coordinator Stephanie Wolfe will speak about the importance of the after-school soccer and tutoring program in Baltimore’s public schools and the effects it can have on child refugees that take part in the program on a weekly basis.

Additionally, two Iraqi graduates from SWB will be present at the gala as a testament to the reality of the positive influence the program has had on the lives of child refugees.

Together, MERI co-presidents, Marin Malki ’18 and Stephanie Hakeem ’18, and club members have been working to ensure the success of the gala as it is their first major event of the semester.

In the past three years, the group has hosted many small-scale fundraisers for various local Middle Eastern Refugee organizations through movie nights, restaurant nights, and speakers. However, this is the first major event in the organization’s history at Loyola.

Malki and Hakeem hope that the gala will spark an increased interested in Middle Eastern issues and culture and that as the years go on, the group will gain a greater presence on campus.

Hakeem, emphasized that students do not have to have ties to the Middle East to attend the gala or be a member of the initiative. She explained, that the ultimate goal of the organization is to “act as an outlet for people to participate in these conversations.”

Students can buy tickets for the gala at the box office for $5 or online for $10. Faculty, staff, and other interested members of the Loyola community can also buy tickets at the box office or online for $10 as well.

Malki encourages students and faculty to come to the event saying.

“It is a really cheap way for people to get involved and support refugees in the Baltimore community,” she said. “Plus its an excuse to get dressed up.”

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Middle East Relief Initiative plans fundraising gala