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“I don’t have a weapon in my hand. I’m just a human being.” Syrian refugee pleads for understanding

CALGARY – He’s a 20 year old musician and has called Jordan home for the last two and a half years. Afraid for his family still in Syria, he goes by the name ‘Nazeer’. “I can’t see my father. I have a one year old sister that I haven’t seen yet, only in pictures”.

Nazeer lives as an asylum seeker in the city of Amman. He’s not allowed to own a vehicle and works in a restaurant without hope of getting a higher paying job. For him, staying in Jordan means he will never have a future and will never be able to truly express himself. “I am an atheist. Every Friday, I have to go to the mosque to pray which is something I don’t want to do.”  said Nazeer over Skype, still dressed in his uniform from work.

About 850 Syrian refugees will call Alberta home by the end of this month. Of those, 800 are privately sponsored.

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READ MORE: Syrian refugees start arriving Dec. 10: government website

A Calgary based organization has almost raised enough money to bring Nazeer to Calgary. “We met Nazeer earlier this year while we were doing work in Amman,” said Salima Stanley-Bhanji, CEO of the Calgary Centre for Global Community. “We’ve raised about $10,000 so we’ve still got a little ways to go.”

Accommodations will also be provided for one year, while Nazeer looks for work or goes to school. The focus is now on getting him to Calgary as soon as possible, but, because he is a single, straight male he does not fall under the federal government’s high priority list. “I think, for him, being in limbo is a really difficult thing,” said Stanley-Bhanji. “When you’re in a place and you’re not a citizen, you’re not even a resident, you don’t really have any rights to live and work like a normal resident would.”

The future weighs heavily on Nazeer’s mind. He hopes to one day have a family of his own. And does not want his children to live like he does now. “I don’t want to raise my children in this country. I want them to live a normal life like all people. To study, to go to college, to do anything they want.”

It could take as long as 19 months before Nazeer is approved to come to Canada.The Calgary Centre for Global Community hopes cases like Nazeer’s will be expedited thanks to the government’s commitment to welcome refugees to Canada. Stanley-Bhanji is doing her best to help prepare Nazeer. “I have warned him that Calgary can be very cold. I’ve taken quite a few photos out the front of my place to show him what the river looks like, to show him what it looks like with snow on the ground.”

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Nazeer’s main focus will be to find work in Calgary as well as build understanding. “Every culture has an idea about the other culture. I don’t have a weapon in my hand. I’m just a human being, and want to live as a normal citizen.”

The Calgary Centre for Global Community is accepting donations to raise the final $2,500. More information can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/vjd22xbg

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