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U of O student organizes fundraiser for local women’s shelter

Photos courtesy of Anique Wallace

LARA SABRAOUI HAS fully committed to the philosophy, “Think globally, act locally.”

Sabraoui is completing a double major in political science and women’s studies at the University of Ottawa. She wants to make a difference in her community before she heads overseas to work in Thailand and Latin America.

“I knew before I left that I wanted to do something,” said Sabraoui.

She organized Stand Tall, Stand Strong on Sept. 4 at the Hill Top Bar and Lounge to raise money and awareness for the city’s oldest shelter, the Interval House of Ottawa. Operating since 1976, Interval House is a not-for-profit emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

“[Domestic violence] is something that should not be taken lightly,” she said, “so when researching various shelters in the city this one really stuck out.”

The event featured singing, poetry reading, and dancing. There was also a raffle, and an onyx bracelet designed by Sabraoui was for sale to raise money for the shelter.

Emily Hillstrom, a U of O student double majoring in political science and law, performed a contemporary dance piece to a poem about body image. Hillstrom believes it’s an issue that no one likes to talk about and struggling with self-confidence could make a woman susceptible to becoming a victim of domestic abuse.

“Body image is a huge problem,” said Hillstrom. “It doesn’t matter if you’re tall, short, fat, or skinny. It all accumulates.”

Sabraoui believes that women need to be educated and empowered with the tools to stand up for themselves and to know that at the end of the day, they are strong. Stand Tall, Stand Strong was an event to share and support women artistically and to educate them about domestic violence in the community.

Lula Adam, public education coordinator for Interval House, estimates their organization provides services for 95 women and 190 children annually. The shelter also receives upwards of 3,000 crisis calls per year.

Interval House provides everything a woman may need after fleeing a dangerous situation, including legal services, groceries, baby items, parenting classes, assistance with permanent housing, tips on financial management, and the necessities for starting a new home.

“Sometimes women come in with just the clothing on their backs,” said Adam. “We also provide therapy, both group and individual. It can be severely damaging to the psyche when the person that you love the most has been attacking you. We provide counselling for that trauma.”

“I joked about it earlier, but I do want to save the world. I truly believe this is my calling,” said Sabraoui. “If I can make a difference in one person’s life, it’ll all have been worth it.”


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