It is from hearing the stories of those who have survived these challenging and horrific situations that we gain perspective and understanding, and develop empathy for the experiences that refugees face.

Draw strength and inspiration from these stories of courage and resiliency.

Athar is a young Syrian refugee living in Saskatoon whose quick laughter and generous smiles hide a world of pain. She says,

“I have to laugh. If I couldn’t laugh, my heart would die from the sadness.”

Three years ago, Athar remembers how she was full of hope for her future. Newly wed, she was looking forward to joining her husband at the university—he was law student and she planned to begin studying psychology. They lived much like any young newlyweds, full of life and love and anticipation, in a freshly furnished suite in his parents’ home, brimming with the gifts they had received from their wedding of only ten days ago. Their plans, however, turned to ash with the bombing of their village and the arrival of military forces.

I lived in a small village in Burma when I was a child. When I was seven I had to move to Thailand with my parents and two brothers. I stayed there until 2014 when I came to Canada with my mother on August 19th. My oldest brother is still in the refugee camp with his wife and daughter. The second oldest came to Canada with his family and in-laws in 2007.

Growing up in Burma, my parents grew rice. We had a mango tree and a banana tree. We kept chickens and pigs. There were about 30 houses in our village. They moved the rice fields around. They would cut down the jungle plants to make a new field and let the old field turn back into jungle. Some people kept an elephant. It could carry heavy logs when they were making a wooden house. Some houses had metal roofs but many used big leaves that we could find in the jungle.

Hi! I’m Shakir. I lived a long time in a refugee camp in Pakistan because there was a war between Russia and Afghanistan. My family shifted to the camp in Pakistan when I was about three years old. It was a difficult life in the camp. There was no good drinking water, no food, and no hospital for health problems. There was no good school and no good work system.

My parents died when I was five years old and my younger brother and sister and I stayed with my father’s brother. His wife was not kind to us.

I’m Daw Khin. I came to Canada with help from, UNHCR. I was in a refugee in Malaysia because it wasn’t safe for us to stay in Myanmar since I am not Bhuddist. I was there until a year and 6 month ago. People told me to fill in an application. I took it to the office.

Hello gentlemen and ladies.

My name is Abdul Aziz Daoud. I’m from Sudan, west region. We were living in a small village called Kojo. In 2004, Janjaweed came to our village to attack us in the morning before people woke up from bed. They were killing and taking our property. They even burned the village. My brother was killed by Janjaweed that day. So, we moved from there to Mostera because Kojo was not safe for living. We came to Mostera and started our new life over there. In 2011, the government said those people who came from the village must go back to their village. The chiefs and the youth said, “We are not going back there until the place will be safe,” and they started arresting the people, but we don’t know where they were taken to.

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