There are a lot of tough questions, but no right answers. What would you do if you were forced to leave your home? On Tuesday, Victoria residents are being asked to make some of the choices refugees face every day.
“The hidden cost was two extra food and all of our money. So we lost more money then we thought we would,” said one participant.
But for Sharmarke Dubow, that was his reality.
“I fled my country on a boat when I was eight years old…my Mother had to make the decision to put me and my sister on a boat,” said Dubow.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from their homes as a result of war, violence or persecution.
A total of 25.4 million of them are refugees, with over half – much like Sharmarke was – under the age of 18. But unlike many, he was given a second chance.
“Canada offered me a home. I was looking 20 years for a home, and now I’m so proud to be Canadian and call Victoria my home,” Sharmarke said.
His vision of Canada is an inclusive one.
“Refugees were always part of Canada and my Canada includes refugees, so it’s really important to understand the difficult decisions families make and, not to simplify the experience,” said Sharmarke.
“It’s really important our communities go through this simulation so we can increase understanding and empathy,” he added.
For Sharmarke, World Refugee Day tomorrow will be a celebration, for the country he so dearly loves.
“I just want to say thank you to Victoria as a refugee and proud refugee.”
And for those having a brief exposure Tuesday to the challenges refugees actually face, World Refugee Day on Wednesday will have a little more meaning.
“It definitely makes you have to think about all the possibilities. They’re not easy decisions to make for sure, and this is just a game. But in that situation, you can just imagine,” said a participant.