I was 4 years old and my sister was 2 years old when we had to leave our home country Syria, leaving our family, friends, hopes and dreams behind and only taking the memories with us, not knowing where were headed or what is awaiting us. It was extremely difficult for us because at such a young age we had to face such harsh reality that left only terror and fear to take over. So we had to build up ourselves, seeing destruction in front of our eyes and starting everything all over again, like trying to write a letter, but just not knowing what to say and tossing each paper away like it was nothing. Except what we left behind wasn’t nothing, it was everything. Moving from country to country was tremendously hard for us as we went through very, very tough situations not many people know the feeling of going through. It was something that added to the hardship of being refugees trying to seek for safety. Something that had us lose hope and think that there might not be a light at the end of the tunnel we are walking through. That perhaps things might not turn into good. It wasn’t easy at all, but we tried to stay strong and knew that weakness had no place in us. We were going to win the battle, we were going to get back up again onto our feet and let nothing defeat us.
Sedra: But when we arrived to Canada, it opened a brand new path for us. Even though I knew nothing about Canada, where it was or how to speak English, I knew one thing’s for sure, this is the place where things will get better. We came here to Canada seeing how beautiful it was and how welcoming people in this country are, which made us feel like we belong, filling our hearts with their kindness. Starting from scratch and building our way step by step made us feel alive again. We found the place to start our dreams and start a path of helping others and giving back to this great country for giving us all the kindness and love we’ve needed and restoring our hope. We are so thankful to be here in Canada.
A little about who we are
Sedra: I’m Sedra Alshamaly, a 13-year-old living in Canada. I’m someone who is always looking forward for tomorrow, passionate about my next movement of change and hoping that our world would keep altering for the better. Besides my love for art, I love playing the piano, it takes me to a whole different world. A world that is full of beautiful music, switching my emotions to calm and happy. I believe in possibility. That a dream can come true, a goal can be achieved through dedication and hard work, because anyone can make the impossible something in the past and the possible, what has taken over in the present. Helping others is something that makes me feel good about myself. When you assist someone else, it always has a way of getting back to you. Making others smile makes me smile.
Shahd: And I’m Shahd Alshamaly, a 11-year-old girl living in Canada. I believe that you should treat people the way you want them to treat you. Also I love sports like swimming, badminton. and volley ball. Listening to music puts me in a whole different world, a world where anything could come
true. Music helps motivate me to continue following my dreams and never give up.
How it all started
We are originally from Syria and as Syrian refugees who have come to the point where they have finally found the safety they have been looking for in an amazing country like Canada, we couldn’t just forget about our past, the point that started our present and will continue on in the future and move on like it is nothing to remember. Syrian children who are living in camps are still suffering tremendously and are walking in a dark path, yet not seeing a flick of light. Our dad showed us pictures and videos of the harsh life the Syrian children are experiencing and we felt really passionate about taking the chance to do something about this cause because we couldn’t just stand there doing nothing, but knowing what those kids are going through. They are children like us who want to live freely, happily and who want to sit in their homes feeling safe. Where the thought of losing someone or yourself because of limited food and medicine supply or not being able to handle any more of the very difficult winter with nothing to warm you has to cross your mind constantly. Our dad has always taught us to take action towards causes we are passionate about and to make a change in the world because we only have one life and we should use it to put a smile on others faces and make a difference. Many generations pass by, but there are only certain people who make it to the next, being remembered for the change they made, the one that not only varied the lives of who were supported, but was also a source of inspiration to many others. And our dad was our biggest inspiration, as he always had the mentality of entrepreneurship and creating new ideas and changing lives. He never put one attempt towards a certain cause and because it failed put it aside, giving up on it and saying the try wasn’t worth it, but always tried again and again until it worked and learned from previous experiences, improving the one after. So, we wanted to take action, taking all of our passion, patience, love and support and putting it to make a change in those children’s lives. We want to help get them closer to finding the safety they are needing and the childhood they are missing.
We First started by making a Facebook page called Elegant Art. Then we made a video explaining our plan of helping the Syrian children through art, which is by drawing pictures that show the suffering of the Syrian Children then selling them to donate the money to help the Syrian Children. We found an organization called Molham Team, who helps and supports the Syrian children living in camps and decided that, that was where all of the funds will be donated. We wanted to raise awareness about the Syrian children’s struggles and raise their voices so they can be heard by the world, spreading the word about their horrific experiences. We drew the pictures that show the very hard situations the Syrian children are baring through on canvas’s and posted them on our Facebook page. And we got a lot of support from many people encouraging us to keep going and telling us how amazing this is. All of the support and kind messages we got from others only pushed us forward and made us feel even more passionate about making the change we are working towards and helping the Syrian children. Our friend Zein then encouraged us to turn our art pieces into postcards. And so we collaborated with cuteroots, turning our art pieces into postcards that are 100% plantable, made out of Wildflower seeds and sourced in Canada. Our art became a way of remembrance and inspiration created by the bond of art and nature. Where someone would plant those postcards and every time they would look at what has grown to be Wildflowers, it would bring the image of the Syrian children, sparking light on their heartwarming story through a flower. And all of our funds go 100% to Molham Team, spreading more happiness among those children!
Why we use art
To us, art is like a place you can escape to, with all your thoughts and dreams, ready to be shown and ready to be let out to shine brightly. Art is a global language that brings all of us near and far together, creating a community of its own that allows anyone, anywhere to understand the meaning of an art piece with just a look. Art isn’t only a source of passion and communication, but it also narrates a story. One that could be heartbreaking or exciting, inspiring or one that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, being a moment of change in your life. It can change the way you see the world, or the way you think about a certain thing. It can bring your attention to something you haven’t thought of or didn’t know about before, being more than just an art piece, but a change piece as well.
Sedra: From when I was little I have always loved to draw, going into the art world where anything was possible, inspiring me to not only dream, but to turn my dreams into reality. In the real world, we have limitations. Borders are drawn out and said to be uncrossable. It feels as though our imagination is tied up, not let free or heard from. Though, in the art world, it’s a whole other story. Locks, are unlocked, borders are something unfamiliar and limitations, well there’s nothing such as that. We are free to turn imagination into reality.
How our project is continuing to be in effect today
Many people in Canada have bought some of our postcards and have begun to know more about the Syrian children’s suffering, which has only led to more curiosity to know more about those kids’ lives. We have spread the word about the Syrian children in our interviews like on CBC news, Global news and many more, bringing awareness to even more people. We have and are continuing to speak in public events about the Syrian children’s harsh reality, adding on to the community of change makers that want to make a difference and change those kids’ lives. And we might have inspired others to take action of their own, supporting the causes they are most passionate about. Creating a domino effect that will keep adding more people who are contributing to turn our world into the better.