Chaker Khazaal's journey from refugee camp to best-selling author
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"I loved living in a refugee camp," admits 28-year-old Chaker Khazaal, "I hated the unfairness of life, but I loved having so many friends in a square kilometer. There were twenty thousand people living there, my cousins, my family, everyone. It was a struggle, but I wouldn't say it was my greatest struggle."

Khazaal is a third-generation Palestinian refugee, but more than that he's a writer, reporter, public speaker, winner of the prestigious Global Leader of Tomorrow Award, and author of the compelling and best-selling 'Confessions of a War Child' trilogy.

Khazaal grew up in a refugee camp in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, ultimately leaving to study film production in York University, Toronto. So what does Khazaal credit his greatest struggle in life?

“You’re going to laugh at this, but my greatest struggle in life was a break up.”

Everyone can relate to the heartbreak that goes hand-in-hand with any young romance, but Khazaal tells this story to make a point, actively challenging the perceived stereotypes that all refugees face.

“Refugees are like everyone else in the world, the media always portrays them as these poor people who are victims — and they are victims, they are poor because they are displaced and they have no home — but there’s also a human face to refugees that is not getting its attention in the media, and that's the story of refugees falling in love, getting married or having a party."

This is the focus of Khazaal’s latest project, 'Love Under Bullets', a documentary project that shares loves stories from conflict areas.

“It doesn’t have to be the love that Romeo and Juliet have, it’s the love between brothers, sisters, friends, between families, between lovers. I mean, I’m a romantic at heart so there is going to be a focus on that,” says Khazaal. “I want it to tell refugees that 'no, you are normal people'. The solution is not only focused on seeing how bad things are. I want it to tell them that they are like everyone else in the world. I mean who doesn’t fall in love? Who doesn’t break up?”

The refugee crisis has been well documented in the headlines, but what frustrated Khazaal the most are the implications that such blanket coverage has on its audience.

“I would switch channels and all I would see is video that basically said‘you should all feel bad for the refugees’.

“I am a former refugee and I hated it when people felt bad for me. When you feel sorry for someone all the time, I think you destroy a part of them. You destroy a part of their dignity. You destroy their very essence of life.”

Khazaal doesn’t value sympathy, instead putting precedence on education, employment, opportunity and nationality. “By feeling bad for them, you don’t enable them. In order to help a refugee, before you pour money in to aid that gets wasted most of the time, the best thing is to actually invest in a human being.”

Read full article here.

Source: Arabian Business