A group of University of British Columbia students immersed themselves in the homeless life this week in order to raise funds for homelessness initiatives.

Nine UBC students took over a corner of the campus, sleeping and living outside for five days and five nights with no money, no technology and no tents.

It's part of the cross-country "5 days for the homeless" campaign, which originally started at the University of Alberta in 2005.

The students relied on donations for food and still attended their regular classes and extracurricular obligations.

Overnight 5 days

Students had sleeping bags but no tents during the week. (Christina Lam/UBC 5days)

Abubakar Khan, one of the participants, said the experience made him more aware of the things he takes for granted.

"There's a lot of young people going through this, but they're alone. For us, there's a lot of friends visiting us, giving us food and all of that. There's no way we can comprehend what it would feel like to be alone on the street."

5 days campus shot

Participant Abubakar Khan says it's important to do the event on UBC campus because it will raise awareness among students. (David Horemans/CBC)

Khan admitted pretending to be homeless on campus was quite different than being forced to live on the streets of the Downtown Eastside. One of the taglines of the campaign is "overprivileged youth helping underprivileged youth."

Yet, he said he hoped the public demonstration on campus would raise awareness among students who might not know about what he called the "hidden problem" of youth homelessness. 

"There's been a lot of positive reaction and students have come up to me to ask what they can do to help."

5 days

A UBC student makes a donation to the 5 Days campaign. (David Horemans/CBC)

Khan said the experience has inspired him to keep doing advocacy work for homeless youth.

"If you shift just one person's mindset, you'll be able to do a lot of things."

This year, the group is donating the money it raises to Covenant House Vancouver, a charity that helps street-involved youth.

5 days

One of the campaign's slogans is "overprivileged youth helping underprivileged youth." (David Horemans/CBC)

With files from The Early Edition


To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled UBC students raise money for homeless by sleeping outside