Edmonton

Edmonton pastor has 'heartbreaking experience' in refugee camp

An Edmonton pastor home from Turkey where he helped deliver food to Syrian refugees is urging Canadians to help out however they can.

'It's such a far-off dream for them to come to Canada,' Kevin Schular says of thousands in need

Edmonton pastor has just returned home from helping at a Syrian refugee camp

7 years ago
Duration 2:30
Pastor Kevin Schular recently spent several weeks delivering food to Syrian refugees at camps across Turkey.

An Edmonton pastor who just returned from Turkey where he helped deliver food to Syrian refugees is urging Canadians to help out however they can.

Kevin Schular, pastor at West Meadows Baptist Church, spent several weeks visiting Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri and Adana, handing out food and food cards to those in need.

He said he saw Syrians begging on the streets everywhere.

'As the people were coming out to the truck to get the food, they're seeing how many boxes are left. They start getting desperate, and clawing and pulling at you. 'Please give it to me,' ' Pastor Kevin Schular recalls. (Suppliled)
"It was a very heartbreaking experience to see the way people are living," he said Tuesday. "In every little bit of green space you can find, any open land, there's somebody squatting, building a tent or some kind of a structure to live in. It's very temporary and they're just trying to get by."

For many, it's a struggle to find fresh water for drinking and cooking.

Each day, Schular and his team took a truck to a grocery store, filled it with food and other goods, and distributed it to people at a camp. Each box held enough food to feed a family for about a month.

"As the people were coming out to the truck to get the food, they're seeing how many boxes are left," he said. "They start getting desperate, and clawing and pulling at you. 'Please give it to me' 

"Those were the times that were really tough," he added. "You feel like you make a difference, but you don't have near enough food to help everybody."

Schular was able to speak with some of the people he was helping with the help of an interpreter. 

"Many of them just want the war to end and they want to go back home. They don't have dreams of moving across the ocean to another country. They want to just go back to their land, their tribe. That's their roots."

Schular said it is no secret that only a small number of the hundreds of thousands of refugees will be able to find new homes in countries like Canada.

"It's such a far-off dream for them to come to Canada," he said. "They all know they can't go. They recognize that. They have realistic goals of what's going to happen."

For many refugees, the temporary camps they are in now are likely to be home for several years, Schular said. While they wait, many are picking up whatever work they can to make ends meet.

The best way for Canadians to help, he said, is to contribute toward education and developing the skills and providing supplies the refugees need to survive in the camps. 

"Not everyone can come here but we can go there and invest in them and help them," Schular said.

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