It was my first week in Canada, and I was seven. We had arrived in winter, and the new tights my mother had bought for me were baggy. I felt them wrinkling up around my feet as I sunk into my desk at the new school. Just one more reason to feel uncomfortable.
My teacher told me to stand and sing "Oh Candy!" with the rest of the class, so I nervously rose to my feet. It was really "O Canada!", although I didn't understand at the time what that meant. As a newly landed immigrant, I was feeling very lost.
At recess, a girl named Sherry Johnston taught me how to make an angel in the snow using my whole body. There was no snow in my home country of South Africa, but I knew about angels. They were a symbol of peace and hope. Lying there, looking up at the snowflakes swirling thick and fast toward me, I had the sense that things might be okay.
Snow angels for Syria
Flash forward to today, when thousands of Syrian families are far from all that's comfortable and familiar. Some are cowering in besieged villages inside Syria's borders. Others are sleeping on the run on their way to safety. Still others are beginning anew here in Canada, struggling, like I did, to feel that they belong.
If there's snow where you are this week, you can do something simple to help. Perhaps you're heading into the snow to ski, sled or skate. Wherever you're at, there's something you can do to send a message of hope and peace to Syrian families.
Could you take a few minutes to make a Snow Angel for Syria? It might seem like a small thing, but you'll be part of a national gesture of solidarity and support for the children of Syria.
Here's what World Vision is asking you to do:
- Start your phone or camera rolling.
- Say who you are and where you are from.
- Share a quick message -- ask Canada to be a leader in the peace process, for example, or whatever else inspires you about helping Syrian families.
- Create a snow angel -- and take a minute to look up at the sky above you.
- Share the message on social media. #SnowAngels4Syria, #WorldVisionCan
Why your angel is needed
March 15 marks five years since the start of the Syrian conflict. Any Syrian child who is five years old or younger was born into war and has known nothing else. I think it's fair to say that most Syrian children age eight or younger can't recall what life was like before the war.
Now, imagine these children trying to make it through the harshness of winter. I battled with my uncomfortable baggy tights -- but at least I had tights to wear. Syrian children in refugee camps are navigating the deep snow in thin shoes and nowhere near enough winter clothing.
In Lebanon Abd Al Kader and his little sister Mona are living in temporary shelter with their family. Mona doesn't have any winter boots, so she stays inside all day. World Vision photo
Encouraging the peace process
Last week in Munich, a 17-member collection of global leaders agreed to a plan for the cessation of hostilities in Syria -- and to accelerate and expand aid deliveries. But World Vision believes there are additional steps that can and should be taken to end this conflict.
"Canada has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership with the international community," says Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada. "Our country can help to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to Syrian families in need, and to champion the peace process."
"Peace is the only solution for ending a humanitarian crisis that jeopardizes the future of millions of children," says Michael.
Peace is the only solution. And your angel can help send that message. Please take five minutes and make a Snow Angel for Syria today.
In Lebanon, Syrian refugees Faysal and Aziza sometimes can't sleep because of the heavy snow. Their parents stay up all night to clear the snow from their tent, to prevent collapse. World Vision photo
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