During the recent federal election,frustrated by the divisive politics that seemed destined to separate a nation of very good people,I sat down to write this post:
Today, I have chosen to be thankful for this heart wrenching political divisiveness because it gives us the opportunity as a nation to decide what kind of country we want to be. The only positive in this is that we now have the chance to define ourselves as Canadians. And I trust we will rise above it all and show the world who we really are.
It’s time now to put that to action.
I’ve been thinking about this idea since I heard how many Syrian refugees were intended to settle in the city where I live, Surrey. More so, my thought was immediately of the children coming,estimated to be at about 500.
While there are valid concerns about space in classes, funding etc – and Mr. Trudeau, if you are reading, we do need more funds in Surrey yesterday thankyouverymuch- these concerns pale in comparison to the concerns of the children coming to our city.
These children did not ask to be born into a country where bombs are a regular part of life. Where being scared all the time is something you just get used to, because that is what war means …. where families are torn apart. Refugee camps. This breaks my heart. They have been through hell.
While we cannot change what they have been through, we can change their experience going forward as they come to a new country. And tonight,seeing news of the imminent arrivals,many of us knew we had to act.
Enter, ‘Operation Backpack’.
My first thought was not of where they will sleep or what they will eat- that will be taken care of. My first thought was of these children being able to feel at home, to feel like they are welcome, valued and that they have the basic tools to … well.. be kids.
To me, that means at least having a backpack to get started. A place to carry your ‘stuff’. Basic school supplies. Crayons. Pencil crayons. Pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, drawing paper… and a stuffie to hold when new places, people and experiences change your world forever.
Familiar items most kids take for granted, but to a newcomer who has been through many changes and hardships, perhaps a bit of stability and welcome to know they are valued, appreciated and welcomed. And I like to think that since most of us come from families of immigrants, we welcome all in this great land that openly welcomed us. These backpacks would be something tangible children can take where-ever they go.
I would love to see this happen in every community across Canada that is welcoming refugees fleeing a country so war torn it is hard to identify at times, but I’ll be concentrating on trying to get this happening in Surrey.
This is something anyone can do. Start with a backpack, fill it with supplies and drop it with whatever local agency or organization is helping settle the incoming families in your area.
I have no idea where this will go, but this is what is needed and anyone wanting to help out, please email me!
Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
backpacks, non gender specific.
crayons.pencil crayons, pens,pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks, binders etc. Basic items most kids/teens can use for school and to pass time outside of school. Colouring books?
stuffed animals – small enough to fit in the backpack.
stretchy gloves & toques for winter
The facts of life are that a child who has seen war cannot be compared with a child who doesn’t know what war is except from television.