Got a question? Maybe we answered it here.
1. Q: What’s the plan?
A: The plan is for us (Elizabeth Bromstein and David Jager) to take our six-year-old daughter, Kismet, and walk 135 km (or so) from our house in Toronto to Niagara Falls. We plan to do this over about six days, starting on June 3.
We will document the entire trek on social media with videos, pictures on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/walk_like_a_refugee), blog posts (walklikearefugee.org), tweets (@walkrefugee), and more, with the hashtag #walklikearefugee. Hopefully people will follow along and feel moved to make a donation and to tell your friends.
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 brought five refugees to Canada through private sponsorship. Now we’re trying to help some more people. Their situation is dire.
Unfortunately, North America is facing crisis fatigue and people are kind of over refugees. Asylum seekers were a hot topic three or four years ago, 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: But wait. This sounds familiar. Didn't you do this before?
Yes! You remembered! Twice! In 2016 and 2018, we walked to raise funds to sponsor those other people we just talked about.
4. Q: Wait! Is your daughter going to WALK 135 KMS!? ARE YOU CRAZY?
A: Of course not. She’ll ride in a stroller or converted bike trailer thingy most of the time and walk when she feels like it.
5. Q: A stroller or converted bike trailer thingy ? 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.)
6. 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. Last year we were offered places to stay with wonderful hosts for three of five nights. The two other nights, rooms were generously donated by the Casablanca Winery Inn in Grimsby and at the White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara On the Lake. Got a lead? Hit me up!
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.
7. Q: But that’s not really “walking like a refugee,” is it? Doesn’t that make you some kind of hypocrite loser poser who's 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 service road that can be pretty scary. If we start to feel that she is unsafe, we’ll need a driver to drive her over it and we’ll pick her up on the other side.
8. 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.
9. Q: Repeat of Question 7.
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!
10. 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 imprisoned and detained in a hostile country with no means of making a living and facing potential refoulement (because who are we kidding. It ain't voluntary) back to a place they face certain danger. So, it’s not a perfect correlation, but this was the closest symbolic gesture we could think of to make.
11. Q: What will you do if you raise more than your goal?
One of our group members, Stephen Watt, has several other sponsorships he's hoping to move forwards. In the unlikely scenario where we fundraise more than we need, we will donate any extra funds to those efforts.
12. 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. 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. Emilia Clarke and Idris Elba play us in the movie which is, of course, a musical.
13. 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!