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.
2016 is a critical year for Syria, 15 March will mark the fifth anniversary of the Syrian civil war. It is in all our interests, but especially the people of Syria, that 2016 is the year when we see a turning-point in this crisis. The UK will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to end the suffering of Syrians.
"Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." This verse, objectively radical given its relevance today, is particularly applicable in the context of terrorist violence, where strangers are willing to viciously stab, shoot and murder total strangers. One need only think back to the Paris attacks and ask: how can such hatred be justified?
Dave Baker is a used car salesman on a mission to make Canada a more fair and equitable place. Go ahead and take a moment. Be skeptical. It took me six months to overcome my initial aversion to the predominant narrative of auto sales. I was sure that there was a catch. There had to be a bait-and-switch somewhere along the way.
Due to the heated political atmosphere from which the initial promise emerged, with Trudeau's Liberals keen to position themselves in stark contrast to Harper's Conservatives, I feel that the massive attention this has garnered from both sides -- both of acclaim and censure -- has been greatly exaggerated. With all the rhetoric from proponents and opponents, we forget that this is a simple act of charity.