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Couple cancel wedding to spend money helping Syrian refugee family

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A betrothed couple in Tornoto have cancelled their blow-out wedding to use the money to help sponsor a Syrian family to settle in Canada.

Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian had planned a big wedding for March next year. They had spent a year organising the event, sent out invitations, and selected a caterer and a lavish venue – costing tens of thousands of dollars.

But in September, the devastating photograph of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s body, washed up on a Turkish beach, after drowning attempting to reach Europe, dominated the media, and the refugee crisis really hit home for the couple.

The photo “was a turning point,” Yousefian tells ABC News “We couldn’t fail to act.”

“Like so many other people, we became acutely aware of how bad the situation was getting …so we cancelled the wedding and redirected the funds,” Jackson says.

Earlier this year, Jackson began volunteering at Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which works to provide Syrian refugees with everything they would need in the first year of resettling, including money, clothing and food for a year.  

Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge members

Jaskson & Yousefian with other Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge members

“When the opportunity came to be involved with the project, to let Canadians act directly and responsibly to the humanitarian crisis, I knew I couldn’t say no,” she says.

 “We realised how all the money we would've put to our wedding would be better used helping give Syrian refugee families the second chance they deserve,” Jackson says.

The couple decided to use the money to sponsor a Syrian family of four, and instead of their big wedding, they had a small ceremony at City Hall last month, followed by a low-key dinner and a small reception at a bar.

Instead of gifts, Jackson and Yousefian asked for donations for the cause, to get them closer to their target of $27,000 (£17,676).

“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,” says Yousefian.

 “Our friends and family were so supportive and so generous in their giving, it was amazing,” says Jackson.

"Our wedding was perfect," she continues. “And it was definitely the perfect way to start our marriage.”

So far, the couple have raised £11,457

You can donate to their cause, here.

Images: ABC News

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