Lancaster University: Law student’s virtual cycle to Syria pedals up the pounds for charities

Aladdin Aljian with his bicycle in front of the Lancaster University sign at the campus entrance
A Lancaster University law student has completed a virtual 2,645 mile cycle challenge from Lancaster Castle to Aleppo Citadel raising a magnificent £2,551.

Aladdin Aljian wanted to raise money for charities in Syria, Lancaster and Morecambe, and to say a big ‘thank you’ to the Lancaster community for its warm welcome over the years.

The 20-year-old final year law student – who is also president of Lancaster University Law School – said that the people of Lancaster had opened their hearts and arms to families fleeing the ongoing war in Syria.

The family moved to Lancaster when Aladdin was nine, following work moves for his father to Ireland, Wales and the South of England.

Aladdin’s father, who works for the NHS, gained British citizenship for his family in October 2010.

Five months later, Syria descended into civil war, which spiralled quickly into full blown conflict, and the family have not been able to return.

Aladdin, who also works part time for Lancaster City Council and has also been volunteering for Morecambe Bay Foodbank, said: “Home was but a distant memory and we were now coming to terms with this reality in the place my father happened to be working in at the time, the City of Lancaster.

“In recent years, the people of Lancaster have opened their hearts and their arms to families fleeing the ongoing war in my home country.

“From the moment they arrived, they were welcomed not as burdens, but as neighbours and friends – as new Lancastrians.

“Lancaster’s generosity is beautiful proof of the power of human kindness and empathy that shines through even in the most challenging times.

“In an age where hate and intolerance is on the rise, there are people who practise kindness.

“Everyday there are humans who lift up the downtrodden.

“The people of Lancaster, through their kindness and acceptance have epitomised this and have chosen hope over fear and diversity over division.”

Aladdin, who has five siblings – one of whom is a lawyer and two of whom are medical students – said he now planned to work towards a Masters Degree at either Manchester or Cambridge.

He said: “As my time here in Lancaster comes to an end, I would like to thank Lancaster’s kind and caring community for their unmatched support over the years and ask for one last favour.

“I virtually cycled the distance from Lancaster Castle, England, to the Aleppo Citadel in Syria, recreating the distance of the perilous journey I was spared as a result of the rights and security afforded by my British citizenship.

“The distance is approximately 2,645 miles and I completed this on the 10th anniversary of the Syrian revolution, the 15th of March.

“Any donations would be greatly appreciated.”

Aladdin took on the challenge cycling outside and on an exercise bike. He initially aimed to raise £1,500 but has gone on to smash his target by raising £2,551.

The money raised will be split between the White Helmets charity – a group of first responders on the ground in Syria – as well as Molham Team, which aims to secure basic necessities for Syrians in need.

This will be done via the charity Choose Love, who provide humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Aladdin will also donate a portion of the fundraising to two local charities – Morecambe Bay Foodbank and Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service as “a token of gratitude to the community who helped my people in their time of need”.

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