WATCH ABOVE: Millions of Syrians are seeking a better life in other countries – like Canada. But as Caryn Lieberman reports, once they arrive in their new homes, they often face new struggles.
TORONTO — The road to Canada was a long, hard fought one for 26-year-old “Moe” — who prefers to use only his first name for fear his family back home in Syria could be in danger.
Moe, a Palestinian refugee, was born and raised in Syria and spent a short time in Lebanon before arriving in Toronto three months ago.
It was there that friends told him about sponsorship programs to come to Canada. He applied and thanks to the Bathurst United Church, he is now settled in Toronto.
“I sometimes feel guilty that I’m here and that they’re not,” he says in reference to his mother and brother in a town north of Damascus.
“I’m assuming that people already know what’s going on in terms of bombings and shelling and explosions here and there.”
Moe is grateful to his new friends at Bathurst United Church. He says without the church, he would never have made it to Canada.
He says the federal government “they have certain requirements that are almost impossible to meet and match by almost anybody of the 4 million refugees residing around Syria or the 8 million inside.”
Often though, Moe wonders whether he would have been better off staying in the war torn country of his birth. Because in Toronto, he has little to offer.
He says his experience as an English teacher in Syria is now worthless and he’s forced to start from scratch.
It’s a daily dilemma for the 26-year-old, but he acknowledges the fact that many of his friends would welcome an opportunity to leave Syria and the conflict there behind.
He himself has lost friends and relatives to bombings. He knows others who drowned trying to flee the country.
It’s stories like Moe’s, and millions of others, that have inspired people everywhere to raise funds to help Syrian refugees.
Toronto’s Leila Canon-Ahern started an online fundraising campaign Thursday night and donated $100 of her own money to get it started.
“The government said it was $27,000, which was the minimum to sponsor a family and bring them here, and I couldn’t do that on my own but I know a lot of people who were willing to help,” she said.
Within 24 hours, Canon-Ahern has raised thousands of dollars. Plus other generous offers. “It’s been unbelievable. I’ve had people, strangers, offer up their homes, basement apartments, furnishings, obviously money,” she adds.
She’s planning a big fundraiser so she reaches her goal and can help bring a Syrian family to Canada.