The Vision2020 speaker series has launched in support of the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society.
Proceeds for the talks go to the Society’s #SPEAKOUT campaign, a fundraising push to fund the Society’s trauma counselling services.
Hosted by Kelowna speaker Linda Edgecombe, the series was kicked off by Amal Alhuwayshil on Thursday night.
Alhuwayshil spoke about her experience growing up in Saudi Arabia, then later leaving her family and home to pursue freedom. She left her hometown after she filed for divorce and it grew unsafe for her to stay there. She then came to Canada as an international student and has since graduated from UBC Okanagan.
“Adversity does not discriminate. You might look at me and other Muslim women (and see how oppressed they are). But I invite you to look at your own backyard at the missing and murdered Indigenous women, the 40 per cent of sexual assault cases being dismissed by the local RCMP,” Alhuwayshil said.
“Look at the hundreds of cases (of women fleeing from abuse) at Elizabeth Fry, the Women’s Shelter and HOPE Outreach.”
Thursday night’s event raised over $1,800 according to the Society’s Community Engagement Coordinator Mandy Glinsbockel.
Glinsbockel said their initial goal was to raise $7,500 to fund 100 counselling sessions, but they set a secondary goal of $15,000 for 200 counselling sessions.
“We launched the SpeakOut campaign to really address the fact that our trauma counselling, specifically for sexual assault, carries a six-month to a year waitlist because of the lack of funding,” Glinsbockel said.
“It’s our long-term goal to have that program fully funded so that no survivor has to be on a waitlist.”
Currently, Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society is now at $12,418 of the $15,000 goal.
Glinsbockel added the society hopes to make the counselling program fully sustainable in the near future so they can serve as many survivors as possible.