I love living in Charleswood. I love the (mostly) quiet summer evenings, running along the Harte Trail, and cross-country skiing along the Assiniboine River.
But it’s not a life I take for granted.
By the time this article is printed, I will have left Charleswood. I will be in the Middle Eastern countries of Jordan and Lebanon visiting Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes.
It’s a big humanitarian crisis — right now, there are more than one million refugees in Lebanon alone.
It’s something I’m aware of because of my job. I work for a humanitarian aid agency called Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
And I realize that because of my job, I know more about this crisis than most of my Charleswood friends and neighbours. And on one level, that’s pretty normal. It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, and a civil war on the other side of the world is something most of us can’t even begin to relate to.
And we’re lucky that we can’t even begin to relate. Syrians in Lebanon are living literally wherever they can — in sheds, sharing apartments, in tents — and struggling to keep a roof over their heads as winter approaches.
There are some ways though, that the Syrian refugees are indeed just like us. And it’s a bit scary to think about. Before the war, Syria was a pretty well-functioning country. People had jobs. Kids went to school. There was food. There were radio stations, and movie stars.
The refugees I’ll be visiting were people just like many of us in Charleswood — lawyers, teachers, and doctors. They led completely normal lives. They didn’t ask for a civil war to blow up around them.
And that’s what’s scary — if it happened there, could it happen here?
Amanda Thorsteinsson is a community correspondent for Charleswood.