Laura is an artist, with her fingernails painted turquoise and a punk-rock haircut. She spends whatever free time she has drawing or playing the Qanoun, an Arabic zither. Laura and her family are some of the 25,000 Syrians being resettled in Canada before early 2016. She has packed her wooden Qanoun in a large black bag she carries on the plane.
“It has 72 strings, and the hardest part is learning to play the songs with a quick tempo. If you learn these, it becomes much easier to play songs at normal speed. I’ve been taking lessons since the 3rd grade.
"For the past nine years, I attended Solhi Al Wadi Institute of Music in Damascus, one of the most prestigious places to learn music in the Arab world. It really is my true passion, and I hope I can continue my lessons when I reach Canada.
"My family and I were living in Damascus. The war ruined everything in Syria. We lived across the street from a government office, and so whenever it was shelled, we were in danger as well. Sometimes we couldn’t leave the house for days, depending on how dangerous the situation was outside. I had to miss a lot of school because of this. It seemed like it was too difficult to have a good future in the middle of such a situation.
“My father is an optician, and he and my mother had a store together. My mother had a childhood friend in Canada who told her about the Canadian resettlement programme. We were living in a suburb of Beirut at the time – we had to live in a car when things were becoming too difficult in Syria.
“My mother’s friend is sponsoring us to go to Canada. My parents are excited for me to have the chance to attend university there, since I haven’t started yet. It’s my hope to study music or art once my English improves. I’m a little nervous to fly so far in a plane, but it's worth it to have a chance to pursue the art I love.”
Photo credit: IOM/T.FIVEK