Torture is an extreme abuse of power and control over one person by another. It is the systematic destruction of a person's identify and humanity. Our primary goals are to return power and control to torture survivors, and accompany them on their journey of recovery. Lamp Lifeboat Ladder is enabling us to resettle up to 90 torture survivors and their families in Canada. Already more than 25 families are in Canada, with more on the way. The project provides safety to men and women who have suffered torture, and who remain at risk because they are displaced, lack access to medical and psychological care, and have no way to meet their essential needs. The project will provide wrap-around support for two years. Survivors will define their own recovery plan, and we will support them in that plan.
Saeed lived in a cemetery for more than a year. We asked him what it was like for him. He said, “I feel safe in the cemetery because dead people can’t harm me.” We asked if anyone knew he was living there. He said, “People know I’m there, but they don’t see me. It’s like I’m invisible.”
One goal of our project is to learn ways of seeing our clients, learning not only their histories, but also their dreams for the future. Saeed was an interior designer in Syria. He refused to fight in the war, and this put his life at risk. He fled, but his twin brother was killed. Saeed told us: “I felt like I lost fifty percent of myself when I lost my brother. We did everything together. When he went to sleep, I went to sleep. We slept with our head on the same pillow.” It took years for Saeed to trust anyone. At first, he would just sit in our center in silent grief. Now he is part of our team; we keep him close to us. He recently offered to redesign our center. He is waiting for the chance to go to a country where he can return to his life as an artist.
Ahmad is a Syrian torture survivor
One day we asked him what he missed most about Syria. “The children,” he said. Then he told a story about his friend Lynn. She used to sing at the funerals of people who were killed in the war.
One day she was singing, and a sniper shot her, and she died. Ahmad said, “We buried her in the Kashef cemetery, but before we buried her, we carried her body around the neighborhood, which was the tradition. When we got to the cemetery, snipers started shooting at us. I stayed in the graveyard hiding between the graves. Many children were shot.” Ahmad was seventeen. After the sniper killed Lynn, he became obsessed with documenting what he witnessed in the war. He said, “I was a camera that recorded everything. I smelled everything. I saw every dead body.” We asked him how he could bear all of the inhumanity and suffering he witnessed. He told us, “There is a saying: God puts his secrets in his weakest creatures. Although I’m very small and my body is weak, I managed to bear all that happened to me. Maybe God helped me stay alive to document everything that happened.” Ahmad is waiting to be resettled to a safe country where he can safely tell what he witnessed in the war. He believes this will help him to heal.
“I first came to Jordan with my husband and daughter, but after that my husband was deported back to Sudan.”
“I struggled a lot because my circumstances were very bad. It was just me and my three-year old daughter. I had to go to UNHCR to get an eye print to get benefits and they would not give me an eye print because I am from Sudan. They would send me home with nothing. Because of the turmoil and the bad conditions that I had lived through, I thought about committing suicide. I thought of my daughter and was worried about her and worried that she would live alone if I killed myself. I went to the Center for Victims of Torture and they transferred my case to a hospital, and then they referred me to this project. I couldn't believe at that time that an organization was going to take care of me. So many organizations had promised help and had not kept their promise, but then this project helped me, and they have helped me and my daughter since then.”
"I am Muson. I challenge sadness and I challenge everything. I am Muson that makes all her dreams come true and nothing can stand in my way. I am Muson. One of these days, if I go to a safe country, I am going to be a woman’s advocate and an advocate for all human rights."Muson
"I am Zahra. I like strong women that are able to stand up for themselves. I don’t like women that give up and are just quitters. I like to have a goal so that I can come up with a good plan to achieve that goal. I love to support my children and my sisters. Support is not just financial, it is also moral support. My philosophy in life is that I believe tomorrow will be better."Zahra
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