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On World Refugee Day, Refugees' Stories give me Hope

Last weekend, I walked through the streets of Toronto with a 12-foot puppet named Amal. Amal represents a 10-year-old Syrian girl who has lost her mother and is looking for a new home. It was wonderful to be part of the crowd that welcomed her with songs, food and love, and to share that sense of community with fellow Torontonians and newcomers.

This video shares the joy of the event, with songs that my friends Rahaf Alakbani and Esmaeel Abou Fahker wrote especially for Amal. They also share their touching stories as refugees from Syria, as well as Debbie's, a volunteer with MABELLEarts.



Amal has traveled a long way. Walk With Amal is global a campaign to raise awareness about refugees and remind the world not to forget about them. Amal has visited over 90 cities in 13 countries so far. 

It was emotional for Esmaeel and Rahaf to participate in this event. It reminded them of the Syria that they loved, but has been destroyed by a war that still prevents them from returning home. Their urgent message is, "The world needs peace now so there will be no more refugees." Amen! May our prayers and actions for peace bear fruit.

It was special for me to reconnect with Rahaf and Esmaeel as well. When they arrived as Syrian refugees in 2016, my church helped them find and furnish their first apartment. It was wonderful to see how well they are doing, with two beautiful young children. They have greatly enriched the Canadian culture with their music, and by founding two choirs, Hannan Women's Choir and Nai Children's Choir. The choirs offer community and healing to other newcomers through music. It is truly humbling that people who lost so much have given so generously.


"The world needs peace now so there will be no more refugees."


Esmaeel thanks Canadians for our warm support for refugees, and encourages us to model this to other countries. Esmaeel and Rahaf are also role models for us in using their talents to help others. We all have gifts to offer: friendship, tours of the city, help with government paperwork, playing with children, practicing English, or sharing our professional skills. We can also donate to or volunteer with organizations that help newcomers, international refugees, or promote peace. 

While we work towards ending the wars that create refugees in the first place, let's renew our commitment to supporting refugees as they heal from the trauma they have fled, while helping them adjust to life in a new country, with a new language and culture. After all, we are one global family.

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