Who we’re sponsoring: Majed, a Syrian refugee living in Beirut, Lebanon
His situation: His once-brilliant career on pause, Majed survives on the generosity of his friends
The opportunity: Private sponsorship to Canada.
What he needs: A new life in a safe country
Meet Majed. Once well-known for his artistic work, Majed now suffers the daily indignities of life as a Syrian refugee. Unable to work, trapped in a country hostile to foreigners, he dreams of being able once again to share his gifts with the world. There good news: those of us who know and care about Majed are teaming up to sponsor him to come to Canada, where he can get a new start at a better life.
Raised by his grandmother in a small town in Syria, Majed had a charmed childhood, full of love and support. His luck turned early. When he was seven years old, his long-absent father showed up at the house. An unstable man, he threatened Majed, first putting a gun to his head, and then nearly throwing him out the window.
As a sensitive boy, Majed was easy to pick on, and his troubles had just started. When he was in the fifth grade, Majed was sexually abused, first by his cousin, then by his cousin’s brothers. The abuse continued until he was 15, when he fled to his mother’s house.
A creative turn
He found an outlet in his creative work, and his talents were recognized. In December 2011, he was invited to work in the United Arab Emirates – just in time to avoid the war that was then sweeping across Syria.
In Dubai, another big step forward: he fell in love for the first time, and enjoyed a lasting gay relationship. He told his mother about his sexuality, and her reaction surprised him.
“She said she supported me and had my back — this was the most overwhelming and significant event of my life.”
Not everyone was so accepting, and he had to stay deep in the closet in Dubai. Life was dangerous enough as a Syrian, let alone a gay one. He was at great risk of being discovered and sent back to his country, now in the grip of a civil war.
Relocations and Dislocations
When his work contract was not renewed, he had to leave Dubai, a normal fate for Syrians. On November 14, 2017, he moved to Egypt. It was a country that had just taken a hard right turn, and Majed was shocked at the hatred toward gay people. It was not an easy place for a freelancer in a creative field.
“I had tough time in Egypt. I had to sacrifice my career. At one point I had to sleep on a building roof for 15 days.”
As a further blow, his mother – whose unconditional love sustained him – passed away. The one consolation was that he found what he thought was the love of his life. He fell in love with someone who he trusted – and who was hiding a serious medical issue.
Feeling that his own health and life were at risk, Majed moved again, on November 1, 2018, this time to Beirut, Lebanon. Where he still stays today.
What’s his life like? As a Syrian refugee, it is illegal for him to work. There are police check points everywhere, stopping him from leaving his neighbourhood. The local people generally hate Syrians, calling them rats and parasites. His future here is bleak.
There is Hope
A group of private citizens in Toronto – including Ziva Gorani, Rasha El Endari and Stephen Watt – have teamed up to bring Majed to a better life. Before we can submit an application, we need to confirm to the Canadian government that we have funds placed in a secure account to support his first 12 months of life in Canada.
That amount includes:
· 12 months of income ($13,200)
· Shelter: $7,008
· Food staples: $105
· Startup costs: $3,300
· Household needs: $300
· Furniture: $1,085
· Clothing: $385
As soon as this money is collected, it will be held in a secure bank account, to be disbursed to Majed when he arrives, under guidelines laid out by the Canadian government.
Majed is a hard worker and a genuinely good person – funny and talented and kind – and would make a wonderful addition to this country. If you can help, please click on the “Donate” button. Every dollar brings us one step to our goal.
To learn more about Majed, read his profile on the Hand-to-Hand blog.
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