For our friends around the world:
Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Refugee
Imagine for a second that you have family in a country we all see as safe – say, the United States. You see them a couple times a year, at holidays; you marvel how your nieces and nephews are growing, and are proud of your cousin for landing a sweet job.
Then, imagine that civil war breaks out in that country, and suddenly, your family is living near, then in, a war zone. You see terrifying scenes of carnage on the news. Places you know, places your family goes to all the time – a park, a school, a hospital – are shattered by conflict.
You call them often, or get texts, but sometimes you won’t hear from them for days, and when you do, it’s to hear your worst fears; a grandma who lived across town was murdered in the most horrible of ways by “soldiers” who are really nothing more than terrorists.
Think of how anxious you would be, knowing each day could be your entire family’s last, and knowing there’s practically nothing you can do – except, maybe, helping them escape the horror and seek refuge with you, in your town here in Canada.
And all this while still having to go about a normal life, going to work, preparing food, being a friend and a community member and all the rest of it.
How would you feel if you heard, day after day, that your family’s situation was someone else’s problem? Or that Canada shouldn’t welcome them, because they’re from a war-torn country and are therefore a security risk?
That’s exactly what it’s like for Syrian refugees now living in Canada, worried about the horrors happening in their homeland.
A good friend of mine comes from a village very near to where this Daesh massacre happened. Every day, she worries, and tries to bring her family here to safety, working patiently through an often frustrating, sometimes baffling bureaucratic process. Every day, she carries the weight of fear, anxiety and survivor’s guilt, and today, a fresh jolt of terror. At the same time, she has to hear and read, day in and day out, the indifference and even animosity of some other Canadians to the suffering of her family, her neighbors, her homeland.
She doesn’t focus on the negative responses, though. My friend is nothing but grateful for the support Canada and so many Canadians have shown for her country of origin and in helping her and fellow Syrians seeking refuge to settle in here at home.
They say never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I hope and pray that no one who reads this post ever has to go through a civil war, or the experience of being a refugee. I do hope, though, that we will all take a moment to remember that refugees are real people, with real families, no different than us and ours.
If, heaven forbid, what’s happening to them were to happen to us, how would we want our global neighbours to respond?
Craig Carter-Edwards is a co-founder of Welcome Home TO