Farzin Yousefian and his fiancé, Samantha Jackson, had planned the wedding of their dreams. The Canadian couple had set aside tens of thousands of dollars – the perfect art gallery venue, caterers, champagne, upscale fare on the menu, etc. – but they scrapped it all and poured their hearts, and their funds, into a much nobler cause, one that will undoubtedly bring them more than one just day of joy and contentment.
Writes BBC News on Nov. 20: “The Toronto couple was planning their wedding when they saw a photo of Aylan Kurdi, a young refugee who died on the shores of Turkey. They realized then their wedding could be an opportunity for fundraising.”
“We were in the midst of wedding planning in September when that devastating photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi found on a beach came out,” Jackson said. “Like so many other people, we became acutely aware of how bad the situation was getting and how important it was to act and do something positive, so we canceled the wedding and redirected the funds.”
For young Aylan’s story, see: How to help Syrian children: 3-year-old’s death ignites desire to aid refugees
Jackson, a doctorate student studying public policy, and Yousefian, a volunteer for the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge – a non-profit group assisting resettled Syrian refugees – opened their money pouches, and embraced something bigger than themselves.
The huge gala of a ceremony turned into a small city hall wedding, with a simple dinner and drinks with friends afterwards. They are fundraising now to sponsor a family of four Syrian refugees, and they already have $17K toward their target goal of $27K.
“The money will be used for anything anyone would need in the first 12 months of settling in a new country, shelter, food, clothes and everything in between,” she said.
“We realized how all the money we would’ve put to our wedding would be better used helping give Syrian refugee families the second chance they deserve,” Jackson said to ABC News. “Our family and friends were absolutely thrilled and supportive. And rather than giving the traditional gift, they made donations to help fund our sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family.”
Online donations to the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge and to the newlywed couple’s cause can be made by selecting their names from the drop-down menu.
“Our wedding was perfect,” Jackson said, “and it was definitely the perfect way to start our marriage.”