On Saturday October 1, I and my husband will start walking from our house in Toronto to Niagara Falls to raise funds for a refugee sponsorship and awareness for the cause as a whole.
Here is a presumptive FAQ based on some questions we’ve already answered from friends and family.
1. Q: What’s the plan?
A: The plan is for us (Elizabeth Bromstein and David Jager) to take our three-year-old daughter, Kismet, and walk 124 km from our house in Toronto to Niagara Falls. We plan to do this over about five days, starting on Saturday October 1.
We will document the entire trek on social media with videos, pictures on Instagram (@ruthbromstein), blog posts (walklikearefugee.org), tweets (@missbromstein and @theyackler), and more, with the hashtag #walklikearefugee. Hopefully people will follow along and feel moved to make a donation.
2. Q: Why?
A: We want to and we need to do something to try to raise funds and awareness. Our group, the Westside Refugee Response has already brought one family of refugees to Canada through private sponsorship. Now we’re trying to help two more people. You can read about them here. You can also read about Elizabeth’s and David’s individual motivations for their involvement in refugee causes here and here, respectively.
Their situation is very serious and they are in danger of it becoming much worse. We need to raise the funds for their sponsorship applicantion quickly. We’ve raised some but it isn’t going as fast as we need it to so, we’re hoping to generate some interest and awareness through this project. The reality is that we are facing crisis fatigue and the fact that people are kind of over refugees. Asylum seekers were a hot topic this time last year but most people have moved on from the subject and just aren’t interested anymore. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the situation is any better for the millions of displaced individuals out there.
Every day people all over the world are forced to take their families and children and whatever they can carry wand walk to safety. These journeys can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometres. We thought we would try to emulate this experience as closely as is reasonably possible.
3. Q: Wait! Is your daughter going to WALK 125 KMS!? ARE YOU CRAZY?
A: Of course not. She’ll ride in a stroller most of the time and walk when she feels like it.
4. Q: A stroller? Isn’t that cheating?
A: You know they have strollers in Africa and the Middle East, right? If you had to leave your home with a young child, you’d obviously take the stroller. (You can put a kid AND bags in it. They’re super handy.)
5. Q: OK, fair enough. Where will you sleep?
A: We haven’t figure that out yet. We’re hoping people will offer us places to stay so we don’t have to spend money, which would be counter to our goals. We’d camp, but neither of us is really the survivalist type so we’re not confident in our ability to carry gear and to camp and keep our child safe all at once. If we have to we’ll stay in reasonably priced hotels.
6. Q: But that’s not really “walking like a refugee,” is it? Doesn’t that make you some kind of hypocrite loser poser whose just doing this for attention, meaning I can sneer at your efforts and make fun of you on social media instead of supporting you?
A: We don’t think it does. We can only have reasonable expectations of ourselves and try to the best of our capabilities. We don’t want to put our daughter in harm’s way to make a point. Similarly, there’s a stretch of highway that, if we can’t find a way around it, we’ll need someone to drive her over it and we’ll pick her up on the other side.
7. Q: What will you take with you?
A: A change of clothes, computers and tech stuff for documenting the journey, snacks, water. A friend will be driving to our destinations carrying emergency gear, rain gear, and extra clothes, in case we get into trouble.
8. Q: Repeat of Question 6.
A: Again, we have to have reasonable expectations. These people REALLY need our help and we’re hoping you’ll support us, join in, donate funds, share the hashtag, and even come out and walk with us for a few kilometres if we happen to be going through your hood. That would be AWESOME!
9. Q: Did the people you’re trying to help have to walk a long distance?
A: No, they didn’t. They’ve had different kind of difficulties. Like being stuck in a hostile country with no means of make a living and facing deportation back to a dictatorial regime where they face almost certain imprisonment. So, it’s not a perfect correlation, but this was the closest symbolic gesture we could think of to make.
10. Q: What do you hope to get out of this?
A: In our ultimate fantasies we garner the support of thousands and fundraise ten times our goal so that we can continue these efforts and help bring over even more refugees who need a place to go. Our hashtag goes viral, and hundreds of people come out to walk with us. We sing, we hug, we laugh, we cry. Our daughter learns a valuable lesson about the strength of community support and the importance of making an effort and making a difference. Our refugee friends arrive safely and quickly and everyone lives happily ever after. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson play us in the movie.
11. Q: What if that doesn’t happen?
A: If nobody pays attention and we don’t raise any money, at the end of the day we got some exercise. We made an effort, and we went on an adventure. We did what we felt we had to do. There’s nothing particularly terrible about that. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
But we hope for the first scenario.
Thanks for reading!
Please see our fundraising links: