A victim of last year’s devastating explosion in Beirut is set to study at the University of Roehampton, thanks to the musical efforts of a Peckham film composer.
Jad Korayani, 20, from Lebanon, planned to study Business, Law & Humanities this year before he lost his job and had to spend all his savings to support his family through his country’s ongoing financial crisis, which put his dreams of higher education on indefinite hold.
He was then injured after stores of ammonium nitrate exploded in a port in the capital Beirut last August, killing more than 200 people and leaving estimated 300,000 homeless.
Film composer Benjamin Blackmore, 26, saw a news report of the Beirut blast from his home in Peckham and wrote and shared a song dedicated to the victims of it.
Benjamin said: “I started to get lots of people talking to me on my Instagram page saying it was so nice.”
Jad’s mother heard the song and contacted Benjamin from Lebanon saying how much her son loved his music, which started a series of conversations between them on how they could help Jad.
Benjamin, who is half-Lebanese, said the story really hit him and he decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Jad’s tuition fees.
After months of patiently waiting, £9,375 was raised – enough money to cover costs for the first year of studying.
The hope is that even more will be raised to cover another two years’ study.
Benjamin initially had doubts over the fundraiser, but found zeroing in on Jad’s cause made the difference.
He explained: “If you ask on GoFundMe to help out a country, or a beautiful city like Beirut, well it’s so vast that people won’t say yes because they think their money will be put away somewhere else.
“So I wanted to create this thing where you can just help one family out and it really did work.”
The story of Jad, whose father’s business was destroyed in the blast as well as injuring his brother, was picked up by MTV, a national news outlet in Lebanon.
Benjamin said that even the Lebanese ambassador to London got in contact with the university to help Jad’s case.
He added: “I spoke to Jad the other day and said I can’t believe we pulled this off. He’s actually coming.”
Applicants to UK universities from Lebanon increased by 25% between 2017 and 2018 and, according to Studying-in-UK.org, University of College London has the most international students at 17,900.
Donations to the fundraiser can be made here.