A group of Canadians — and one American resident in Canada — have gotten together to support a Syrian short-story writer’s relocation to Canada. You can help:
The Catalyst5 is a group of Canadians in Toronto, among them university lecturer and critic Mark Clamen. The campaign to sponsor a Syrian author is further supported by Jessica Radin, an American PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. It’s Radin who got to know the Syrian author at the heart of this campaign while studying in Syria. Radin said, over email, “Mustafa was my teacher and friend for the two+ years I lived in Syria, and I’ve stayed in touch with him since then.”
With Radin’s support, the members of Catalyst5 have, as they say on the crowdfunding site Go Get Funding, “come together to save the life on one Syrian man.”
The group is withholding the author’s full name at his request; however, he is a gifted writer with two published short-story collections in Arabic, as well as published translations. Those interested in volunteering, or who feel the need to know more before donating (or who want to read a short story), can email ArabLit or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once the money is raised, the Catalyst5 is committed, under the terms of Canada’s Private Refugee Sponsorship program, to supporting Mustafa for his first year in Canada.
Mustafa currently works with the wounded in Reyhanli, Turkey. As the funding page states, Mustafa “never wanted to completely leave [Syria], but he recognizes now that there is no safety for him, as his public opposition to theocracy and his writings about the current regime puts him in peril from all sides of the conflict.”
Radin, who works on how medieval Arabic philosophers negotiated the role of the imagination, said over email that the money Catalyst5 is raising “is the bar set by the Canadian government for what is required to support a single individual for a full year – that includes medical needs, clothing, food, rent on a house, etc; he will be able to register directly in English classes for free provided by the Canadian government.”
She added that they are aiming slightly higher than the Canadian government’s minimum $12,600 to sponsor a refugee, as “rent is so high in Toronto, and I want him near enough to downtown that he can take advantage of the cultural and literary events in the city. We already have someone with a room to let who is willing to lower the price so that Mustafa can live downtown.”
Those who can help with the campaign are encouraged to visit the crowdfunding page. Those who wish to know more about Mustafa — for sponsorship and volunteer purposes, not curiosity-seeking — can email Catalyst5 or ArabLit.