UD sophomore and politics major Aubrey Wieberg, founder of the Dallas Refugee Project, has always been interested in multicultural and international issues. As such, it was no surprise that her heart was deeply moved after the Houston native had the “inspiring” opportunity to tutor a Burmese student in Chicago online last semester.
Looking around in her local community, Wieberg realized that Dallas was in need of a similar tutoring program. In order to fulfill this need, she decided to build her own organization, which is known today as the Dallas Refugee Project.
The group developed their own tutoring program and organized supplies and clothing drives. Since the creation of the organization in April 2021, the Dallas Refugee Project has collected over $10,000 in physical and monetary donations — a huge milestone for them.
In the future, they hope to reach many more milestones including becoming a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit and purchasing a warehouse to use as a headquarters for drives, storage and donations.
When asked about how the UD community specifically has been a support system for the organization, Wieberg had endless things to say.
The first donation drop-off location was in Haggar where the nonprofit received an outpouring of support from students, faculty and staff.
“UD has been a core aspect of this, and I think a big reason for that is our Catholic identity of service and focusing on others and welcoming the unwelcome — it’s great to know that the community around you is in support of the refugees and trying to welcome them,” Wieberg said.
Because of the prevalent crisis in Afghanistan, the Dallas Refugee Project is needed now more than ever as 95% of the refugees they serve are from Afghanistan, Wieberg said.
“When everything happened in Afghanistan, it was so devastating to see them be isolated and not be able to live in their home country and coming with only the clothes on their back. It’s hard sometimes, we get really overwhelmed — but days like that [are when] I remember the people who welcomed us into their home or cried when we gave them shoes,” Wieberg said.
Heart-wrenching news stories from around the world can easily make humans feel helpless in the pursuit of unity, but the reality is that we can always lend a helping hand. In fact, Wieberg has shared multiple ways that students, faculty, staff, and other members of communities near and far can help aid the refugees right now.
Beyond working to establish a club on campus, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved including tutoring during Saturday morning sessions or writing for the Dallas Refugee Project blog. If you have questions or are interested in volunteering, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Aubrey encouraged anyone who has a passion or a dream to make it into a reality: “If there’s not something on campus already or [you] don’t see something in your community, you can be the change. God put you in a specific position to be able to make a change, and if not you then who else?”