By Behdad Mahichi
Since Nov. 16, members of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Students’ Union (ACSSU) have been holding a fundraiser while attempting to emulate the life of displaced people in Iraq and Syria — in other words, those who are refugees in their own country.
While much of the focus on the crisis in Syria and its surrounding areas have been turned on the flow of refugees fleeing violence and persecution, there are many people who remain at the epicentre, merely displaced among violence in their homeland.
For this cause, the ACSSU will sleep outside the Student Campus Centre for three nights, from Nov. 16-18, with no access to electronics, eating only food given to them by donation.
I spent a night with the group to gain a bit of their perspective.
While enduring the same hardships here at Ryerson as those fleeing the devastations of conflict is impossible, staying a night alongside their cause allows for further understanding of the challenges refugees will face.
In the midst of busy November, these students put their academic lives on pause, packed their bags with only the most basic possessions and pitched a tent away from their cozy homes.
Going back home can’t be an option — and it never is for those forced to flee. They try to explain their situation to those passing by, many of whom are too submerged in their own lives to care.
A handful of compassionate people donate food and warm drinks to their cause. Throughout the day, they continue to try to raise awareness, and when nighttime comes, a vigil is held for their lost brothers and sisters.
When the streets empty out and it gets quiet, incomplete tasks come to mind, with no phone or laptop anywhere in reach to complete them.
Life is lived on a day-to-day basis here, just as with a displaced person within a country in conflict where tomorrow may simply be another city or danger that you flee.
The only thing keeping you busy in the meantime, and the only thing that remains important when the cold and the hunger kick in, are the loved ones around you. You’re all in this together.