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Let's do more of it !

September 9th, 2007 by Muhamed Almaliky

Wrapped with the multi-coloured Iraqi flag, walking towards the place where the gathering should occur, full of fear and prayers that it would turn out the way they had planned and hoped.  Many weeks and perhaps months of planning and painstaking efforts to perform a not-so-easy task, which is gathering a couple of hundreds of Iraqi expatriates in Canada in one place to show support for their war-torn country in the hope of raising a few thousands dollars that would eventually benefit the Iraqi Red-Crescent through the Canadian Red-Cross.  THEY ACTUALLY DID IT.


A group of young Iraqis have been very frustrated in not being able to help their people in Iraq facing daily killing, chaotic occupation and ambiguous future until they heard of (walk for Iraq), a fund-raising short walk organized by Iraqi groups in different countries, so far: the Uk and New Zealand.  The idea appealed to them and they immediately started thinking and planning the activity by inviting their family and friends.  They publicized the project through the media and internet, attempting to reach wider participants.  They set their fund-raising goal of $10,000 that would go to the Canadian RC and had asked ICRC to sponsor the event.

They went on to design a logo for the event, order T-shirts, hats, flags and pins for the walk and arrange for Iraqi fast food to sell during the activity, in case they fall short of their fund-raising goal.  They got access to the Arab radio and television broadcasts to talk about their fund-raising activity.   

The seven young Iraqis woke up to a cloudy/drizzly day on August 25, 2007 and made sure they were the first to arrive at the square where the walk was to commence.  Shortly after, they were followed by a few determined enthusiasts who defied the weather conditions and asserted their way to the event.  They would have been content if 10% of those who signed up for the activity would have actually shown up but to their surprise, a total of 200 had trekked their way to the gathering.  The majority were Iraqi-Canadian re-settlers joined by Canadians, Indians, Pakistanis and even French.  Most had wrapped their trunks by the Iraqi flag, perhaps retained by recent celebrations in Toronto, where jubilant Iraqis took the streets for their triumphant national soccer team who had won the Asian cup.

The activity started by a representative from the Canadian RC giving a short speech, followed by Farah giving the "ok" for the crowd to start walking the 9 km distance in Downtown Toronto.  The walkers were shouting national slogans in support of their people and singing old and modern Iraqi songs.  At the arrival point, they were met by a much longed-for fresh ‘Shawarma’ sandwiches eaten at the beats of DJ Firas’ music.  At the end, the crowd, who had already pitched in their charity at the beginning of the activity and thanked the Canadian government for not taking part in Iraq's occupation, got a chance to sit, dance, relax, chat and take pictures.

It was a success indeed, not in defeating the weather, but more importantly defying the myth that "you just can't get Iraqis together" unless it is a soccer game or Iraqi singer winning an Arab title.  This time, they actually came in a rainy day, gave money that exceeded the pre-set target and walked together for Iraq.  LET’S DO MORE OF IT.


Muhamed Almaliky

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