About Our Philanthropy:
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What am I doing?
This project is intended to fundraise bikes for Syrian refugees, in order to aid those who are struggling to engage themselves in Canadian society. Donations will be used to buy bikes, helmets and locks from Canadian tire, then immediately given to the recipient. Every piece of gear will be delivered by me, Charlie Sheiner, and photo evidence and a letter from the recipient will be provided on the campaign.
Many underprivileged immigrants, including nearly 40,000 Syrian refugees, have entered Canada with little to no money, no university degree, a language barrier and little knowledge of the country. This has lead to the possibility of immigrants feeling discouraged to build relationships in the community. Without this drive to meet others in a new country, life will be a constant challenge no matter your gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
About a year ago, my family and three others teamed up with the organization JIAS (Jewish Immigration and Services) to sponsor a family that was caught in the atrocious Syrian civil war. They were brought from the war-zone to Canada in August of 2016, along with 40,000 others since then. Throughout the past year, I have become close with the children in the family. They are extremely kind, funny and knowledgeable. Tt is amazing how far they have come considering the abhorrent challenges they had to face in the previous months.
When I originally met the refugee family, I noticed they predominantly spent time with other Syrian refugees, instead of broadening their social horizons and truly integrating themselves into the community.
While spending time with them, simple acts of kindness started to expose the family to the great diversity of Toronto. For example, one day I took the family and the mother to the brickworks to skate. After this venture, we took them grocery shopping, and then to Baskin and Robbins for ice cream. Quickly, the stop for ice cream turned into a 20 minute visit as the woman at the register talked to the refugee family about their story. As my visits progressed, it was evident that they were becoming more comfortable with the city around them.
A large piece that helped the children become familiar with the city was providing them with transportation assistance. Most Syrian refugees don’t have cars and many are too nervous to enter Toronto public transit considering their gruesome past. As a result, we provided each of the family members a bike which they ride around the city. Also, one of the other families sponsoring the family dedicated themselves to assisting the family through the subway station multiple times a week to make them more comfortable with public transit.
Most Syrian refugee children are not exposed to Toronto the way that Ali and Fatima, though. Many live in confined apartments complexes with a majority of other refugee families and don’t have private sponsors to provide them with means of transportation or expose them to the city around them. In addition, the prejudice occurring in the US, along with Quebec mosque shootings and Charlottesville protests having likely increased isolation even more. Fundraising to provide refugees with bikes will allow them to leave their neighborhood and venture around the city, creating relationships and experiencing a fulsome Toronto.
The experience I have had with my sponsored Syrian refugee family has inspired me to fundraise to allow other refugees to get out into the city. Providing refugees with bikes will make transportation much easier, and allow both children and adults completely immerse themselves into Toronto’s society.