Spending a winter living in a tent is something most people have never done, let alone even considered.
But it is something that Halim Sbenati has spent a lot of time thinking about. In particular, the estimated 2.3 million Syrians who fled the country because of war and now find themselves living in refugee camps outside of Syria, many of who are spending this winter with a tent as their only shelter.
On Saturday (Jan. 18), Sbenati and a few fellow activists set up tents at the gates of Victoria Park to help raise awareness for the plight of these refugees.
Syrian by birth but having lived in London since coming to Canada with his family when he was 7, Sbenati noted that many in those camps don’t have the resources to get through the winter, “So I am trying to raise awareness and funds as well to help those families that don’t have the resources.”
Made aware of the refugees situation after watching videos on Youtube created by the United Nations about the camps, Sbenati set out to create video of his own — #WinterRefugee — to show people what the refugees live through on a day-to-day basis. Pitching a tent in a field, his original goal was to spend 12 hours in that tent wearing only a t-shirt and jeans. On a bitter day just before Christmas, Sbenati was only able to last three hours before calling it off.
That video though has caught some attention, having been viewed over 33,000 times and drawing support for Sbenati, not just here in London but also from people in other cities who want to help spread the word of his #WinterRefugee campaign.
“It is important to help people out,” said Sbenati, “Not just the Syrian refugees but people everywhere.
For more information on #WinterRefugee, you can reach Sbenati by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or you can donate to it directly by visiting www.islamicreliefcanada.org and following the links.