Thousands of Swedish teenagers collect money for refugee schools in Rwanda

News Stories, 10 May 2006

© UNHCR/P. Aarsaether
Students in Sweden organised concerts and other activities to raise money for a UNHCR educational project in Rwanda.

STOCKHOLM, May 10 (UNHCR) People across Sweden on Wednesday were met by youths selling home-made cookies and lemonade, holding impromptu concerts in the streets and other similar activities, all to collect money for the education of Congolese refugee children in Rwanda.

"It is fantastic to see such engagement and creativity among Swedish teenagers, it is very heartening and overwhelming that they are supporting UNHCR and refugees in this way," Machiko Kondo, UNHCR's Regional Representative for the Baltic and Nordic countries, told organizers.

Nearly 80,000 Swedish teenagers from some 250 high schools participated in the fundraising campaign.

The nation-wide event, dubbed "Operation A Day's Work", is held every year by the Swedish Student Organisation to fund an educational project in a developing country.

This year's beneficiaries are Congolese refugee children who attend UNHCR's schools at the Gihembe refugee camp in Rwanda.

"With the money from this campaign, we will be able to build new classrooms, buy school materials and train more teachers," Ms. Kondo noted.

During his visit to Sweden last December, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres met with representatives from the Swedish Student Organisation and expressed his gratitude for their support.

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie last month also thanked participating high school students in an open letter, which was widely printed by the Swedish press.

It is expected that in total the campaign will raise over a million US dollars, which will be disbursed over three years to UNHCR.

By Paal Aarsaether