Today, the world remembers a child who never had the chance to seize life at all. His name was Alan Kurdi. You'll recall him as the little Syrian boy who, was found dead on a beach in Turkey the morning of September 2, 2015. He had stepped into a crowded inflatable boat with his family the night before, in a desperate attempt to each Europe in safety. Alan's death rocked people everywhere -- from families in their homes to leaders in the halls of power. When children like Alan reached out for help, we didn't reach back.
The relentless bombardment on innocent civilians continue with casualties, death and destruction occurring every second. But this is just an ordinary day in Aleppo where simply every place is a target -- mosques, morgues, markets, bakeries, hospitals, ambulances, fire trucks, with absolutely nowhere safe for people to go.
They say that Twitter has created a powerful new way for everyone to engage in political dialogue. I'm not so sure it's a good thing. One has only to look at the dysfunctional American political environment, the rise of Donald Trump and the decline of the European Union to see that the inmates take over the asylum.
If our social media profiles can tint in support of Paris, Belgium, and Orlando, then why not change for Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq? Innocent lives taken in Turkey airport, and no vigils, or landmarks, but when an attack of similar degree took place in Brussels we did all of the above. I'm often asked why Muslims don't speak out enough, but perhaps this is something we all need to work on.
Is it too much to ask in the 21st century to self-identify based on the beliefs you hold so dearly? After all, who has the right to tell me who I am and who I'm not? Apparently the Pakistani government does, who have declared the Ahmadiyya community "infidel" and non-Muslim since the infamous ruling in 1974.
The Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year, has contributed to the highest level of human suffering the world has seen since World War II. In Za'atari, I met just a few of the 37 million children of primary and lower-secondary age who are out of school in crisis-affected countries. The impact of those numbers is far-reaching and leaves children in a cycle of crisis.
Pregnancy during war, natural disaster, or economic collapse isn't simply a time of joy and wonder; it's often tainted with anxiety and fear. For these women, it's more like nine months of holding the thin red line of courage against almost impossible odds. The strength and resilience needed to do this is astounding.
After living amid the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey for a year after graduating from the University of Toronto, Nouhaila Chelkhaoui knew she wanted to help make a positive impact on the lives of newcomers. Her return to Toronto gave her the opportunity to do just that, as she joined U of T startup iamsick's newest initiative, which helps refugees navigate Canada's complex healthcare system.
"Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere." These words of Martin Luther King Jr. accurately describe the world crisis we live in today. To avoid war and attacks as such, all nations must come together for the greater good and unite in their efforts to stop all forms of cruelty, persecution and injustice perpetrated in the name of religion or else wise.
Many moments will stand out when I remember my trip through war-torn Syria, neighbouring Lebanon, and Turkey. But the gift of a little box crammed with children's dreams is a memory that will certainly stay with me. That's because the red and white box filled with poignant pencil sketches says so much about this five-year-old conflict.
This week marks five years since the start of the Syrian conflict. The war has inflicted a devastating toll on millions of desperate Syrian families, resulting in a humanitarian crisis that has rippled throughout the region. More than 4.3 million Syrian refugees are now trying to piece their lives back together in neighbouring countries. That's where the No Lost Generation project comes in. It's a global initiative, supported by donor countries and non-governmental organizations, to help save the future of displaced Syrian children. The goal is to provide safe education and psycho-social support which includes protecting children from exploitation, abuse and violence.
Home is a tent divided in two for Um Yasmine and her five children. The Syrian widow fled to a dusty field in Lebanon three years ago, as war piled up bodies around her beloved city of Homs. Now, a bedsheet hangs down the middle of her crowded tent shared with another refugee family. Um Yasmine is so tired of this makeshift life. She just wants to go home.
A desperate Syrian mother in a refugee camp tried to give me her sick little girl on my last visit to the region's conflict zones and neighbouring countries filled with fleeing people. She wanted me to take her child back to Canada for medical care. That day, I saw misery and despair that no one should bear.
The responses of individuals and countries to the Syrian Refugee Crisis has been a bit of an informal test on the level of humanity within individuals and nations. Even though outwardly Canada seems to have embraced the incoming refugees, I think some people have forgotten the compassion and despair that was felt when the image of Alan Kurdi's lifeless body, was seared into our collective unconscious.