On the Road from Damascus to Victoria, BC.

13 11 2016

dsc02494Sari Alesh

– Syrian Refugee gives back by using his musical talent.
Hear his first Canadian music recording
– Learn about plans to support Benefit Event
– Discover news about another Syrian Family commencing that same long road from Damascus.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world to-day. Over 33,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada since November 2015 when Prime Minister Trudeau opened the doors to approved applicants. That “door” is now closed for government sponsorships but private sponsors still have until the end of 2016 or early 2017 to apply and receive approval.

One fortunate refugee who took that long road from Damascus to Victoria is a talented musician, 31 year old, Sari Alesh. Sari played with the Syrian national orchestra for six years, touring and playing in Germany, Italy and the Middle East. He also performed with leading Arabic pop stars and recorded a number of successful records. Sadly his musical career was abruptly halted for five years as the conditions within Syria deteriorated due to war. He spent the early years of the Syrian civil war in Damascus but then, like so many in Syrians, he fled his home to find safety in Turkey during 2014.

Since arriving in Victoria nine months ago, life has been busy for Sari. The accomplished violinist has been able to take some lessons at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. He is also improving his English studies at UVic and wishes to study for a Master in Music. He hopes to be successful to secure a scholarship to fulfill this dream. His ambitious plans are now to continue to play violin (in some capacity), teach French/Music and also to teach violin to children with downs syndrome.

Despite being focused on his new studies he still finds time to connect with his new Canadian community and try and give back to help others. He is so appreciative towards the people who sponsored him to move to Canada. He feels it is only correct that he return the kindness, as best as he can.

finalbenefit-dinner-posterbwOn 26 November, Sari will be performing in his third Benefit event. This time at the Friendship Community Church, an event that is being arranged to raise funds for another Syrian Family whose cousin, Liza Glynn, lives in Victoria. This family hopes to be following Sari and move to Victoria. The family of five (parents with two young children and a disabled brother) fled Syria after their home was destroyed by ISIS. Having lost everything, they, along with millions of others, decided to leave their homeland in the hope of finding a safe place for their family to re-start their lives again. Their children have never lived without war. They have not had the chance to play safely outside. They have been faced with many other challenges in Syria including daily power cuts, food shortages and other issues due to living in a civil war. They are currently in Beirut with thousands of other displaced refugees hoping for the chance to live in peace.

On the Road From Damascus Benefit event will feature Victoria’s local world music group, Saffron. They will lead the Middle Eastern themed musical entertainment, evening together with the dazzling Asmira and her Belly Dancing group, also from Victoria. Sari will join them for a “jam session” and then and he hopes to delight the audience with his chosen music for the night, that will include performances of Turkish, Arabic pop as well as classical pieces. It promises to be a fabulous evening with a three-course Middle Eastern-themed dinner prepared by owners of Café Zanzibar Restaurant in Brentwood Bay followed by the live entertainment.

Sari has made his first recording in Canada of his favourite music and you can listen to some of the songs now at this link.

Listen to Sari playing Violin on “Yalnız Sen”, a Turkish folk song.

 

Music Recorded in Victoria, by Richard E Arthur Studios.

If you enjoy listening to his music, please consider to make a donation to help the Benefit Event and raise funds to aid sponsorship of another Syrian family:
Please make cheques payable to St Mary’s Church, Saanichton Memo: “For the Peninsula Refugee Fund.”

To learn more about this special Benefit gig, please link here

Also, watch an overview about the event via this YouTube video:





Local Musicians and Dancers support Benefit Event for Syrian Refugees.

26 10 2016

ON THE ROAD FROM DAMASCUS.
SPECIAL BENEFIT DINNER AND SHOW – RAISING FUNDS TO SUPPORT SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY

– RAISING FUNDS TO SUPPORT SYRIAN REFUGEE FAMILY

Victoria, BC, Canada.

Victoria’s local musicians and entertainers have opened their hearts and pocket books, to offer their services to support and perform at a very special Benefit event on 26 November 2016.

Well known Brentwood Bay resident, Liza Glynn who has advanced MS, has been working hard to raise funds to sponsor her Christian, Syrian family to move to Canada.

Time is running out to meet the deadline to apply and raise funds so now a group of her friends, members of the St Mary’s Church and friends around the Peninsula and Victoria have gathered to host this special event to boost her fundraising efforts.

saffron-imageWell known World Music group, Saffron an entertaining mix of world influences, folk and jazz, will open the show with their wide-ranging explorations of three talented multi-instrumentalists – Ken Hall, Niel Golden, and Enrique Rivas. Using songs drawn from a deep repertoire of original and traditional pieces, these consummate tour guides will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey through the evocative sounds of India, the Arabian peninsula and Africa (with a touch of blues thrown in for good measure.) Saffron has also produced a critically acclaimed CD titled Road. If you are a fan of exotic instruments and mood-inducing musical textures, sit back, relax and enjoy the trip. Join Saffron for an unforgettable celebration of improvisation, featuring a musical conversation you won’t soon forget!

If the music of Saffron is not enough to entice you, live belly dancing will occur during the Saffron performance, presented by the awesome Asmira and her dance group. Asmira is a world class dancer, master teacher, and award winning choreographer who has taught and performed Arabic Dance in Canada, the U.S.A., Egypt, the Canary Islands, The Bahamas, Morocco, and Turkey since 1979.

sari-aleshFollowing these two electric performances will be Sari Alesh, a recent refugee from Damascus. Sari formerly trained and played violin with the National Damascus Symphony. He arrived in Canada six months ago, and is doing his part, to give back and help others, in the same way as others helped him.  He will also share his story from Damascus to Canada.

ximena-londonoWith all that sitting, the crowd may want to move beyond toe tapping, so the evening will be rounded off with a dynamic Zumba routine lead by Ximena Londono. It will be fabulous fun and we hope many will rush to buy tickets $50 and u18 $20.

Ahead of all this great live entertainment will be a delicious 3 course Middle Eastern Themed dinner prepared by local restaurant owners, Mo and Toni at Cafe Zanzibar, Brentwood Bay. Plenty of other folks will be volunteering to support and ensure the night will be filled with good food, music, fun and prizes.

It truly promises to be a fantastic evening at the Friendship Community Church, Saanichton. Tickets may be purchased from the following locations or tel 250 652 4123

Buy tickets at: Brentwood Bay Village Empourim, Cafe Zanzibar, Friendship Community Church.





ON THE ROAD FROM DAMASCUS – Reuniting well known Brentwood Bay resident with her Syrian Refugee Family

6 10 2016

saffron-imageAs Canadians look forward to being reunited or joining their families for Thanks-giving this weekend, one Brentwood Bay homeowner is sadly unable to make such plans. Liza Glynn’s cousins were one of the thousands of families whose lives have been disrupted by the civil war taking place in Syria. Their home in Damascus was totally destroyed by terrorists and life in Syria became dangerous with bombings, food shortages and challenging living conditions. They have now fled to Lebanon in the hope that as refugees they can find a better life.

Liza and ChilliLiza Glynn, who has MS, has not allowed her disability to stall her passion to lobby, fundraise and work to get her cousins approved as refugees and able to move to Canada. Sadly time is running out as her application is only being processed now but she remains hopeful that she can celebrate Thanks-giving with her family in 2017.

Meanwhile, her friends are rallying around to help Liza raise the “much needed” funds that are required by private refugee sponsors.
An exciting, Benefit Dinner and Show has been scheduled for 26 November 2016 at the Friendship Community Church in Saanichton.

hagop-ani-and-their-childrenAll profits will go to aid the sponsorship of Liza’s Christian refugee family (Mother, Father, two young children aged 6 and 7 and a disabled cousin).

“We are so lucky to have such a fabulous welcoming community with an amazing capacity to reach out and help within Victoria.” Commented event planner, Sandra Arthur.

The owner of Zanzibar Café and Restaurant, Brentwood Bay will be cooking a Middle Eastern themed dinner (at cost) so that the fundraisers can maximize profits.

Following dinner, guests will be entertained with a Middle Eastern twist:- World Music group, Saffron will take you on a one-of-a-kind journey through the evocative sounds of India, the Arabian peninsula and Africa. Local dancer, Asmira will delight the audience with her exotic Belly Dancing skills and Ximena will give all the chance to try out their dancing skills by joining her in Zumba at the end of the evening.

benefit-dinner-posterjpgA recently arrived refugee from Syria, Sari Alesh who played for the National Damascus Symphony will share his wonderful talent and play a number of music pieces on his violin. He will also share his story on his journey from Damascus, to refugee and finally to Canada.
I hope readers will want to join and attend this dinner or send donations if they are unable to attend.

For ticket information visit the Peninsula Refugee Fund Team page at Facebook for more information.
https://www.facebook.com/BrentwoodBayCommunity/

Make it a date that counts!





Why Run for the Cure?

22 01 2015

I had the honour to join my husband and his work colleagues to Run for the Cure in Victoria, BC, Canada.   Here’s a quick review together with photographs to celebrate our day.  If you missed joining or sponsoring this event, I hope you will join us next year!

“Since all of us have women in our lives, we should feel the need to find the cure.  And remember, men may get breast cancer too.  It affects all of us.”   

Each year thousands of Canadians participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC “Run for the Cure” to help raise funds for important research to help beat this disease.  The Foundation has funded $300 million in breast cancer research, health promotion, advocacy, education and awareness programs since 1986.   It’s therefore great to report that philanthropy is alive and kicking in British Columbia as tens of thousands joined the effort to raise more funding ($9 Million in Victoria alone!) and participate in the 2014 run around the University of Victory grounds.   This included the Hewlett Packard Victoria office that fielded a twenty-five person strong team thus beating their own record for attendance.   Family members young and old joined HP Victoria staff in the run (jog or walk), whereas across Canada more than 150 HP employees, family members and friends participated. HP VictoriaTeam HP raised a total of $13,124 in donations for this very worthwhile cause. Way to go Team HP!

We all thank Bonnie Gunderson and Amanda Gray who performed a great job coordinating HP’s participation.  In addition they arranged team shirts and generally kept up the drumbeat to get everyone to get involved and pumped for the day. The friendly rivalry of “Cowtowners” (Calgary) vs “Islanders” (Victoria), kept the team motivated.   A sea of pink clothed people greeted the team arriving to collect their HP Run for the Cure T-shirts.

Some participants had definitely gone to town: supporting pink wigs, pink hats, pink dresses and tutus. Some even extended the branding to their dogs and baby pushchairs. A personal favourite were the local fire-fighter team all clothed in pink jump suits.   An option of 1 km or 5 km was available for those joining this “fun run” and serious runners were definitely out in force. Likewise people with walking sticks, wheelchairs and those walking with young and old did the event organisers proud.

Our own, Ross Kelleway achieved a respectful 29 minute run, though 3 minutes short of his typically best run effort. Clearly valuable early minutes were lost as the dense crowd could only shuffle forward as runners, joggers, walkers and those pushing strollers all battled to push forward and commence the race. One of the youngest members in the HP team, was Richard Arthur’s 11 year old son, Edouard, who achieved an impressive 38 minute result – his first 5 km run, ever and now hooked to take up running.

Everyone participating had a reason and a story to share. Many participants were sporting labels on their back to “advertise” why they were running and raising funds for Breast Cancer Research. It brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye to read the many tributes being sported such as “I’m running for my Mom”. In 2014, it is estimated that 24,400 women and 210 men in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and that 5,000 women and 60 men will die from the disease.  

Morale was kept high with live music played at different points along the route. Likewise volunteers, strategically placed along the route, cheered and applauded all the participants.   As runners and walkers approached the first 2 km marker the unmistakable sound of the bagpipes could be heard and this definitely helped flagging runners to pick up the pace.  A great feeling of relief washed over participants as they reached a “water stop” point and beyond at the final 1 km leg. Everyone participating enjoyed the job of running under the End banner to cheers, waves and well done greetings.

The top team fund raisers in Victoria were Brentwood Busts Cancer who earned $12,727.88 from their sponsors whilst FooB Fighters raised $10,899.21.   Hats off to the the top individual fund raiser who was Kirsten Petersen who accumulated an amazing $9,537.10

The HP team members were thrilled with their efforts. The sun shone early in the race but rolling clouds provided a much appreciate blanket of “coolness” for the sweaty runners effort. All in all a fun morning activity for an important fund raising event. The funding will allow important research, education and advocacy initiatives to be put in place in the coming year.

So was it worthwhile for the HP team, Victoria?  You bet. On top of all of that, we beat the Cowtowners…Yeah!

See you again next year!  P1070726