Walk Like a Refugee 2019, June 3 – 8

Walking for the Lost Boys of Manus Island.

Guess what time it is! Time for Walk Like a Refugee, 2019 y’all!

On June 3, 2019, our family will walk approximately 135 km from Toronto to Niagara Falls. This is our third annual walk to raise funds for refugee causes.

This year we are walking for the Lost Boys of Manus Island. Specifically Omid and Navid, two refugees that have sponsor groups waiting to welcome them to Toronto. But we are also walking for ALL the Lost Boys of Manus, to bring attention to their plight, so the world doesn’t forget them.

The concept is simple: we put on some comfortable shoes and go for a long walk. You donate money to encourage us and that we put towards helping a few of the world’s more than 22 million refugees and 65 million displaced people.

The Lost Boys of Manus Island

For the past six years, hundreds of men have been living in various states of detention on Manus Island and in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

They left their homes in search of safety, and instead of finding welcome they were imprisoned by the Australian government, sent to nearby islands for “off shore processing.” Six years later Australia and PNG have closed the Manus centre, but continue to refuse to take responsibility for these men, who live in deplorable conditions, in detention or semi detention, in fear of the violent locals, and without adequate food, provisions, and access to medical care. Most cannot work or find jobs, and they have nowhere to go and no recourse.

Meanwhile, the local governments are pressuring them to “voluntarily” return to where they came from — where many face possible persecution, torture, and execution. Of 1,523 people sent to Manus, 646 (42%) people have been “voluntarily” returned to their countries of origin. For the most part, the Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International do not know what has happened to them.

Fortunately, the women and children who were sent to processing centres in Nauru have been moved out and resettled elsewhere. But the men of Manus continue to languish, their fates uncertain. They are the Lost Boys. The Australian government is washing its hands of them, while they still have nowhere to go. And the world is still largely unaware of their existence.

Among these men are Omid and Navid. Both are Iranians who suffered torture and persecution and left home in search of a better life. Both are living in horrible conditions, both have suffered more than anyone should, and both have sponsor groups waiting to welcome them to Canada.

Navid: Navid (30s) was arrested, detained, and tortured by religious police in 2012 for the crime of taking private music lessons from a Christian woman. After his release he was under constant surveillance, and left Iran to save his life. To this day he has difficulty walking and his hearing is damaged.

Omid: Omid (20s) is a member of a persecuted minority in Iran and was arrested, detained, and physically abused by authorities in 2012. He says, “They hung me from the roof by my hands tied behind my back. As a result I had twisted shoulders and couldn’t lift anything for almost a year.” He fled the country in fear for his life.

Both of these men thought they were heading to safety. Instead they were imprisoned and now find themselves being used as political pawns by the Australian government, caught between dangerous and untenable situations.

We can change that. YOU can change that.

Funds raised from this year’s Walk Like a Refugee will be distributed as needed towards the application and settlement in Toronto of these two men of Manus Island. Funds have already been partially raised for both men, and we are raising what is needed to complete the process.

Each application requires $16,500 to be raised before filing. Your donation will contribute to Navid and Omid’s living expenses for the first year in Toronto. These include:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Startup costs
  • Furniture
  • Clothing

Funds raised in excess of what is reasonably required for two men to live in Toronto for 12 months will go to another sponsorship organized by Stephen Watt, a passionate volunteer and humanitarian who has helped raise over $200,000 to privately sponsor over 20 displaced individuals and six families to come to Canada. Stephen was also instrumental in helping to bring Hassan Kontar and 12 other refugees to Whistler BC.


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