My name is Rita, and I am a 19-year-old student living in Toronto. When I immigrated to Canada eight years ago, I began a journey in a land that changed my life forever. Canada is a home that welcomed me, embraced me, and provided me with every opportunity that I never dared dream of before. But there are millions of people left in my country, Syria, who continue to suffer and fight for basic human rights every day.
Syria is currently in its 10th year of war. Ever since the beginning of the civil unrest in 2011, millions of innocent citizens were killed, tortured, forced to relocate, starved, and stripped out of almost every basic human right. Right now, there are over 9.3 million people who are food insecure in the country. That is more than half of the population, and this number is rising every single day.
Syria is suffering, and it is suffering in many unimaginable ways. Above 80% are below the poverty line, meaning that many families are forced to choose which kids they can feed every night. Over 6.5 million people are internally displaced and living in camps with very minimal supplies. Schools and hospitals were destroyed by bombings and airstrikes, and children were killed in several chemical attacks. Right now, the price of meat is too high for many families, and the economy is flatlining. In fact, the first positive COVID-19 case was just confirmed in Northwestern Syria, and the spread of this virus will cause very dire and disastrous conditions within the area.
Although I left Syria in 2006, my family members were deeply affected by the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011. The most affected was my grandmother, who spent months trying to seek refuge in a place that would protect her. With the rise of tensions during the revolution, my grandmother, Nadia Khalouf was left with no option but to leave everything behind and embark on a life-threatening journey away from persecution. Despite old age and serious medical conditions, she remained resilient in the face of struggle and determined to find freedom in a foreign land. My Grandmother Nadia is a powerful short memoir that describes the heart-breaking and hopeful experiences of a refugee senior who survived in the sea, in jail, and in the hands of smugglers across Europe.
I decided to write this memoir so that I could spread awareness about the plight of refugees everywhere, as well as fundraise for families left in Syria who really need help and support. To me, awareness is the first step to taking action. I hope that this memoir inspires someone to work towards raising awareness about an issue they are passionate about. I believe that youth have the power to make significant differences in the world, and it all begins with the desire to create change.
My Grandmother Nadia is available for order on Amazon, and it costs just $2.99 CAD. All royalties will be donated to families living under unprecedented conditions in Syria.
Where to Donate to Help Syria:
- Syria Relief and Development: https://srd.ngo/main_donation/
- The White Helmets: https://www.whitehelmets.org/en/
- Syria Emergency Task Force: https://www.syriantaskforce.org/donate
- Molham Volunteering Team: https://molhamteam.com/en/cases
Link to buy the book on Amazon, including reviews on the book (available in 10 other Amazon marketplaces):
Link to a video that talks about the dire situation in Syria, the purpose of the book, and family receiving the donations (also available on my Instagram account as an IGTV):
(Total views on Rita’s personal social media outlets: 12,400)
Rita Audi is a nineteen-year-old activist currently pursuing post-secondary education in health sciences. She was born in Syria and moved to the United Arab Emirates when she was six years old before immigrating to Canada at the age of twelve. For several years, Rita has worked to support marginalized communities and raise awareness about different global issues. Currently, she is the regional lead of clubs for Girl Up Canada, an executive member of the Minister of Labour’s youth council, a compliance analyst with the G20 group, and a research assistant for women in the postpartum period. Outside of social advocacy, she enjoys spending time with her family and listening to her grandmother's stories. Rita earned two pilot licenses by 2018, which is why she believes that the sky is the limit when it comes to empowering others and serving the community.