Simon Fraser University (SFU) is now the first Canadian university to accept Bitcoin donations. The donations will go toward an SFU co-op project in India called Destiny Reflection. The project works to empower girls who are victims of human trafficking or happen to be vulnerable to the crime. Kicking off their announcement, SFU alumnus Scott Nelson and Mike Yeung, president of the Simon Fraser Bitcoin Club, donated the bitcoins equivalent of $6000.
But it’s not about the bitcoins. It’s so much more than that.
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“Bitcoin can be moulded in ways that can benefit people [in every part of the globe and every segment of society] in many ways,” Yeung said upon the announcement. “Those benefits can only be realized when Bitcoin is driven by community efforts and the passion of those with vision and determination – the very traits that SFU breeds and supports.”
SFU had been in talks about accepting bitcoins at their various bookstores and dining services in the Vancouver area earlier this month, but today the university decided to dip their toes in the water. Using BitPay, the university wants to help ease the pain of human trafficking in India on young girls that fall victim to a heinous crime.
Where the Bitcoin Donations Are Going
Founded in 2007, Destiny Foundation is based in Kolkata, India. It’s a social enterprise that helps girls and women in India who have been trafficked, or are even vulnerable to being trafficked. They produce accessories, home décor and stationery products to help them cope and ease out of a traumatic experience. Destiny Foundation sums up their need for the donations sincerely when looking at their site, explaining:
“Our journey so far would have been much more challenging, if not impossible, without the help of the organizations who have partnered with us over the years. We have a number of wonderful associates sprinkled in all parts of the globe who patronize the products made by us and ensure that they reach out to as many consumers as possible.”
Two SFU students, Laurie Macpherson and Lauren Shandley, are headed to Kolkata to working for Destiny Foundation directly.
It’s More Than the Bitcoin
While it’s phenomenal that SFU is embracing Bitcoin, that’s not the point. Any news organization could go with the headline “Canadian University Embraces Bitcoin” and spin the story to be about the success of digital currency adoption, but it wouldn’t be right. The fact of the matter is that the Bitcoin is accepted not because it’s a revolutionary technology, but because there’s a chance to help people in need.
These funds are going toward helping these girls in India that have experienced a traumatic, life-changing event. The fact that these girls have to live with the fear in the back of their mind that they are vulnerable at all times should leave anyone shaken. It’s not right, and it’s not the kind of life they deserve.
“As soon as I heard about the humanitarian project the bitcoins will be supporting, I knew this would be the ideal way to make a difference,” says Scott Nelson, chief technology officer at dana.io.
It’s great that SFU is accepting bitcoins for this cause. They even are allowing anybody to donate if they feel inclined. But it’s not about the technology. It’s not about some currency revolution. It’s about helping someone in need, even if they may be halfway across the globe. Bitcoin is just a tool to get there, not the goal itself.