I have dreamed of visiting Europe since I was about eight years old. At the age of 12, I used to voraciously watch movies I knew were set in Spain, Italy, Greece or France. At 14, my mom introduced me to a Pakistani drama set in Spain and so began my obsession with Spanish culture, traditions, architecture and the Islamic influence. I studied European art and culture for two years during college and kept every one of my textbooks as reference/leisure reading material.
Life ensued, which meant paying for college, university, getting married, having kids, getting a house and the list goes on. My dream of visiting Europe never faded, it was just relocated to the back seat of my bucket list until recently. My husband and I put aside a bit at a time for THAT Europe trip. The one the kids would remember as being EPIC. The one that would fulfill my dream of sipping a cappuccino in an Italian café, walking through the streets of Cordoba and taking in the views of Mykonos.
Coming back to reality, I was devastated at the recent attacks in Beirut, Paris and Mali. The list goes on and at this point it is not about placing more importance on one attack versus another but about remembering that we are all in this together. This global fight of good versus evil.
I wrote about the Paris attack with an unadulterated passion, sadness and resolve to represent the majority of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims who are peaceful, compassionate, caring human beings. I was tired of having others speak for me, my faith and my convictions.
Along the way however, things got ugly. As the cowards tend to do, hateful tweets came my way, ugly blog post comments started popping up and nasty comments were left from the shield of a digital screen and a pseudonym that is more numbers than letters but whose razor-sharp words cut deep into my saddened heart. The irony was apparent. I was being labelled a "Saudi-funded blogger," "extremist," "attention-seeker," and other nasty words and insults by complete strangers who had hatred in their cowardly hearts and bore no attempt to sheath it.
Along with those ugly messages that made me cringe before logging online came words of love, support and encouragement from Canadians living abroad, from those abroad visiting Canada and from beautiful human beings from all over the earth.
So as my husband and I sat casually brainstorming what we might do if we went to Europe, where we might visit, what we might eat, a nagging feeling tugged at my heart. I turned to my computer screen and saw an image of a mother comforting her crying infant, then another of a father weeping as he did not have anything more than stale bread to feed his young son and yet of another of a mother who had died trying to protect her family from harm's way. These were all powerful images of Syrian refugees fleeing the heinous war that has been thrust upon their country. Human beings with no chance or choice to pack their belongings, memories or even clothing out of fear for their very lives.
As the holiday season creeps up around the corner, many friends of ours are discussing holiday travel plans, cruises and destinations for their families to visit. I can't blame them, I was chatting right along them doing the same. Then something changed. I couldn't get those images out of my mind.
As I shopped for new gloves, hats, mittens for my children (for the primary reason that Batman and princess are so passé) I couldn't help but ache for the families that do not have a warm home to come home to. The families who have had to leave their entire lives behind to be shelled to oblivion while they risk their own lives to give their children a future. These people are human beings struggling to simply stay alive and are risking everything they have ever known in order to do so.
That something that clicked inside of me? It was the missing piece of the puzzle. It was writing about the Paris attacks last week, planning out my dream vacation with my family, shopping for frivolous necessities as the cold weather approaches. There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things above. Every one of us is entitled to spend our hard-earned money as we see fit but when I looked at my children and all that we have, I could not bear to see another image of Syrians immigrating en mass, hundreds and thousands of miles at a time.
I've decided to put my money where my mouth is. I have tweeted and written about the plight of the Syrian refugees. I have watched as some media outlets took the recent heinous attacks in Paris and used them as a political baseball bat to swing the refugee debate to their advantage despite the fact that none of the attackers were even Syrian, nor refugees (despite earlier reports of a forged passport).
I have never done this before, but I want to appeal to you. I want to appeal to you who are reading this now, to cut back on that delicious daily latte, pack lunch for a week instead of buying it, or whatever other luxury you can sacrifice, in order to help these families that are dying by the hour; many due to the cold weather that is rapidly approaching. I am then going to take it a step further. I am going to put our dream vacation on hold indefinitely and put that money towards helping Syrian refugees in need.
We are a community. I want us to work together to help those in need. Your dollar and mine, side by side. The Canadian government is matching every dollar donated by an individual to Syria until December 31st. You can help in two ways. 1) You can help by donating 2) You can get others to make donations. If you can do neither No. 1 nor No. 2, you can help by sharing this post. Email it, tweet it, share if with your friends and family and together let's make a difference to these families in need.
My trip to Europe can wait, these families in need however, cannot. I hope you will join me.
This post was first published on CanadianMomEh.com.