Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian’s big March 2016 wedding–which they had been planning for over a year–was just months away when a photo of a little boy appeared and shocked the world.
The image of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who had drowned along with several family members in a desperate attempt to reach Europe in September, drew attention to the Syrian refugee crisis like no other photo before it.
The photo “was a turning point, in the sense that we knew this was a perfect time to act,” Yousefian told the Star. “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.”
The couple decided that instead of a big celebration, they would opt for a smaller event at City Hall last month, in hopes of raising enough money to sponsor a Syrian family of four. Their wedding reception doubled as a fundraiser. Fortunately for the couple, their original wedding venue refunded their deposit, which was also a big help toward their $27,000 fundraising goal. So far they’ve raised about $17,500.
“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,” Yousefian said. “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.”