The students will continue to attend their classes but, beyond that, they have to get by with nothing more than a tooth brush, a pillow, a sleeping bag and whatever food that passers-by offer them at their camp-out site on the terrace near the University Centre. The students will have to ask for hand-outs day and night in their efforts to eat and to raise money for the cause.

The initiative wins the praise of civil-law student Raphaëlle Ferland, who actually had to live on the streets just a few short years ago. “Sleeping under a bridge at night and going to school during the day…I went through that,” she admits. “Even if Five Days is a bit removed from reality, it’s a fabulous way to raise people’s awareness about homelessness. I wish the students the best of luck, because it’s really cold to be sleeping outside!”

“Our objective for the week is to show how hard it is when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from and where you’ll be able to stay for the night, but you still have to attend school, keep up your grades and finish your assignments,” explains marketing student Patrick Douville, who also leads the uOttawa team. “Right now, our goal is to collect $10,000 in donations.”

“This type of event makes students realize things they might not want to face up to—homelessness can be a fairly taboo topic in our society,” adds Asmait Hailu, one of the team’s five members. “I think we should have more activities at uOttawa that take students out of their comfort zone and raise awareness.”

This year, the University team will be handing over its donations to Operation Come Home. “It’s a good organization,” assures Raphaëlle Ferland.  “They helped me a lot. They even offer courses so that homeless people can get their high-school diploma.”

Patrick Douville and his team invite you to stop by to support them with food offerings and, especially, cash donations. If you yourself want a taste of what a homeless person goes through, you can camp out with the fivestudents for a night or two.

You can also keep track of the team on both its Facebook and Twitter accounts (@5Days_Ottawa).

By: Nadia Gervais