Students and staff at Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) are completing a roughly 10,000 kilometre walk-a-thon to help a local family.
The family are Syrian newcomers who arrived in Waterloo region six years ago and at the time had no choice but to leave some of their children behind in Turkey. The family has struggled over the years to bring their loved ones to Canada.
Staff and students at WCI found out about the situation from young members of the family who attend the school and stepped in to help. They created the Walk for Hope initiative as one of several fundraising events the school has been hosting to raise the $35,000 needed to help sponsor the children abroad and reunite the family.
“The right thing is to help. They’re victims of wars that have nothing to do with them. That’s the motivation at our school,” said Lynn Schulze, department head of English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development.
That is no small amount for a school to raise, but so far they have managed to gather about $20,000 through the various efforts and they hope to reach their goal this week when they wrap up their walk.
This walk, by the way, was created with a very specific distance in mind; 9,731 kilometres. That is the distance between Syria and Waterloo.
It’s symbolic of this journey the family has made to come to the region seeking safety. “We were trying to think how we could make it somewhat similar to what this family [went] through,” said leadership teacher Kerri Jilesen, reflecting upon the family’s difficult journey to Canada. Hopefully it can be a symbol of the journey that the rest of the family soon will be making.
Other Syrian refugees who are students at the school are taking part in the walk-a-thon too, including Mona Alatia, who knows how it feels. She fled to Canada as a Syrian refugee four years ago. “I know how hard it feels to leave people behind and walk a lot of distance to escape the hard situation you’re in,” she said, noting she was lucky enough to travel by car. “I really just want to help this family come together and live an amazing life here,” she added.
The experience has other students, including Will Aurini, reflecting on their own experiences. “My life here has been really easy and I’m aware not everyone has it the same way and I think everyone should be doing everything they can to help others and try and reunite families … we’re working for a real cause for our school that everyone is going to care about,” he said.
This effort by a school community to reunite some of their own with their family that they have left behind is your Good News Story of the Day, which you can find in full here. But if you are not connected to a student who is participating in the walk and would still like to help, then you are encouraged to donate to the Crossing Borders Hope fund.
The Mennonite Central Committee is helping the school with the logistics of the process. Schulze said most of the paperwork has been approved and the siblings abroad are waiting to complete medical exams and eligibility interviews. The family hopes to be reunited within the next year.
Story and Image from CBC.