Sometimes, if you are lucky, you will meet someone who completely changes the way you think and the way you see the world. You don’t know where and when it will happen but the impact will resonate through the rest of your life.
I met such a person a few weeks ago in Amman, Jordan. Her name is Roy.
I was in Jordan with Dr. Samantha Nutt, the Founder of War Child Canada. We were visiting their programs and getting to understand the needs of the people better. Jordan borders Syria, and since the start of the civil war that engulfed that country over 1 million refugees have crossed the border. The total population of Jordan is just 9 million.
Jordanians are naturally hospitable people and at first the refugees were warmly welcomed. But the quality of life for Jordanians has been severely compromised as they have been forced to share resources. Children must now attend school in shifts because there simply isn’t enough room to accommodate the new population.
Roy is a volunteer at War Child Canada’s program that works with vulnerable refugee mothers, offering them psychosocial support, life skills training and legal aid. Roy is herself a refugee and she carries with her a desperately sad story. War came quickly to her home in Syria. On one day she lost her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law. Her husband was shot in front of her and her two young children. She was left without a male figure in the family, something that is a true hardship for women in the region at any time, but incredibly so in the middle of a war. She did not immediately leave as the journey out was extremely difficult. Instead, she and her children hunkered down. That is until their house was shelled. It collapsed on top of her. She and her daughter were badly hurt and she knew then that she had to get out. Somehow she and her children managed to get to the Jordanian border on foot, where she collapsed and was taken to hospital.
It was hard not to cry as Roy told me this harrowing story, but it was not her past that moved me so deeply, it was her extraordinary demeanour in the present. She was filled with joy and gratitude that she and her children had survived and were safe. Her face lit up as she told me how happy she was to help other refugee women through War Child Canada’s program. I watched in wonder as she and other women expressed how hopeful they were for the future of women in the region, as a result of the information and training they had received during the program.
Self pity is too easily fallen into in our privileged life in North America. We believe we are entitled to a comfortable life, our every wish granted. We are hurt when that is denied us. We see it every day. If we are honest, we see it in ourselves. But having met Roy and the other extraordinary women at War Child Canada’s program, I will be making a conscious effort to emulate their extraordinary humility and their innate understanding of what is really important – life, family and community.
Sometimes I wish my platform as an artist was so big I could do as much for women like Roy as I want to. For now, I have learned that it’s not how much power you have, it’s what you do with it. That is why, since returning from Jordan, I have been working tirelessly to promote War Child’s upcoming What if…? Gala on Nov. 5 in Toronto. This is War Child’s most important fundraiser of the year and this year especially it is critical that we come together to show our support for women around the world. There are still a few tables left and some late entry tickets available. I do hope you will join us. Every dollar counts, once you know the impact it can have on families like Roy’s.
Chantal Kreviazuk, Sarah Harmer, Sandra Shamas and Rupi Kaur will be joining War Child Founder Dr. Samantha Nutt in Toronto on Nov. 5 for an intimate evening of music and inspiration to celebrate the promise and power of women. All ticket information can be found here: www.whatifgala.com.