FOR five days, 19-yearold Dini Stamatopulos will be relying on kind strangers, public washrooms and sheltered doorways to remain fed, clean and dry.
She and seven other Capilano University students and faculty have volunteered to participate in the annual Five Days for the Homeless campaign, organized by the school's social justice committee, which aims to raise money and create awareness about homelessness.
From March 10 to 15, Stamatopulos, a second-year global stewardship student, and her "homeless" comrades must remain on campus, have no income, consume only donated food and drink, and sleep outside. They are allowed to bring a sleeping bag and pillow, but they cannot use cellphones, laptops, or even a toothbrush (unless it's donated).
"I know, obviously, I'm not going to know what it's like to be homeless just from five days sleeping outside my school," Stamatopulos says. But she explains her motivation is to draw attention to the issue and develop a better personal understanding of the hardships of living on the street.
"Hopefully it will open my eyes a little more to the situation that people are facing out there."
This year, Capilano is concentrating its campaign on youth homelessness.
"That's something that I'm really passionate about and it's a really scary thing because it's on the rise," says Stamatopulos.
Five Days for the Homeless was founded by the University of Alberta in 2005. Capilano University has been taking part since 2007 and this year is one of 27 universities in 20 cities across Canada to participate.
All money raised during the local campaign will go to the North Shore Youth Safe House. Last year Capilano raised $4,000 for the safe house; this year, organizers hope to reach the $7,500 mark.
Campaign co-ordinator Teresa Grant, also a global stewardship student, says the goal of the five-day event is not only to raise money and create awareness about youth homelessness, but to open up a dialogue.
"Youth homelessness is a conversation that really needs to be had," says the 20-year-old.
To engage the campus community, Capilano's social justice committee is hosting events throughout the week including a speaker series, film screenings and other activities. A concert fundraiser will kick off the campaign March 7 at the Anza Club in Vancouver.
"We're really trying to bring in a variety of viewpoints and have a good conversation with both the university and community," Grant says.
Meanwhile, Stamatopulos is glad to have finished all her midterm exams. She doesn't expect to get much sleep, or be able to focus on her textbooks, during her five homeless days.
For more information, go to Facebook.com/5Days NorthVancouver.