I have briefly mentioned experiencing bullying before, but after hearing about an incident in Netherlands of a young Tamil boy who took his life due to bullying, and receiving an email from a girl yesterday about similar issues she is facing, I thought I will write a blog about my thoughts on this, in the hope that this may create a ray of hope for anyone out there who feels what I felt many years ago.
There once were two distinct civilizations – unique in culture, language, religion, and genetic lineage – that lived on an island paradise. These two civilizations were themselves made up of different groups – villages, clans, families – that for various reasons would war with one another every now and then. Sometimes for territorial control, sometimes for vengeance, sometimes for reasons too complicated to fit into this sentence. Still, it was known that the island was home to all the different people.
Imagine 20 Tamil boys and girls stood in a circle in the sand under the shade of a Banyan tree, all with beaming smiles and raring to workout. Except these boys and girls aren’t your usual Torontonian kids, but resilient survivors of war, disaster and poverty in Sri Lanka, and the circle is a roda, the circle of energy and camaraderie that starts off every Capokolam class.
I still remember when I met Nishanthan for the first time. We belonged to the same musical school so I heard him before I saw him. It was our annual talent show, and there he was, playing My Heart Will Go On from Titanic.
This past fall, I was put in touch with the New York Times newspaper who was interested in meeting recently arrived Syrian refugees, particularly to understand the children’s experience in Canada. Over the course of a number of visits, the NYT produced a series of in-depth pieces featuring Syrian refugee children attending Samuel Hearne Middle School in my ward.