We are excited to announce that from now until December 27th, 50% of the proceeds of Kill Matilda Bandcamp sales of ‘Songs of Survival’ will go to supporting the sponsorship of a Syrian Refugee by our friends Jenny and Trevor, via Rainbow Refugees. Jenny & Trevor have a goal of raising $20,000 by Dec 31st ($12,000 for the sponsorship and the rest to help with settlement and living costs).
The person they are sponsoring is Sayf. Sayf is a queer Syrian man currently living in Istanbul. He fled Syria after the Assad government tried to recruit him for the army but cannot join his family in Saudi Arabia because he is gay. Sayf has a degree in marketing, is currently learning English and is anxiously awaiting his sponsorship so that he can live in safety and freedom in Canada.
To support Sayf’s sponsorship, we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds of our online sales. Unfortunately iTunes takes 3 months to pay artists out, which is why we decided to set this fundraiser up through Kill Matilda Bandcamp for the fastest possible turnaround in order to meet the Dec 31st goal.
We know that many Kill Matilda fans have big hearts and care passionately about this cause, so we have made our new album, ‘Songs of Survival’ available by donation. Pay as much or as little as you like!
We are inspired to help someone else while we attempt to help ourselves after some van issues forced the cancellation of a part of our US tour. We are also asking fans of Kill Matilda to help us with this fundraiser; the 50% of your funds that we keep will be going to helping us get our band back on the road in January to get to all the dates we have booked in 2016.
I (Dusty) am passionate about the plight of refugees, especially those displaced due to the civil war in Syria. As a fundraiser for international aid organizations for many years, I worked to educate the public about this growing crisis from the time it started. I have felt powerless as I watched the conflict begin, and continue, and the fact that it has continued to this day and to this magnitude has been heartbreaking.
Although a lot of people are aware of the refugee situation, they are not aware of the circumstances that led to it, or the truth of what it means to be a refugee. We are concerned with border security and with what it means to host refugees, but those who know the story of how these refugees came to be know how dire the situation is. A few statistics:
- There are currently more than 50 million refugees worldwide
- The average length a person lives in a refugee camp currently is 17 years – that means that many children have never known life outside a refugee camp!
- More than 51% of refugees are under 18
- Right now Lebanon is hosting 1 million Syrian refugees, but normally only has a population of 5 million. Syrian refugees currently make up 1/5th of the population!
But why should we care about what’s happening in Syria, and why is it happening? It started with a little boy named Hamza Ali Al-Khatib. In 2011, Hamza and some of his friends spray-painted words of protest on a wall and were arrested by the local police in Daraa, Syria. This was during the height of the Arab spring but the fascist Assad government of Syria has always maintained a serious crackdown on any political dissidents, even children.
Hamza was 13 years old. He was beaten, tortured and had his penis cut off. His body was then dumped on the front step of his parents house. People in Syria began openly protesting and thus the spark was lit for a civil war (of course, there are more issues that led up to this, including decades of oppression).
For years, the conflict in Syria has led normal, every day people to flee for their safety and their children’s safety. But governments around the world have closed their doors. Only a tiny trickle of the millions of refugees were absorbed by Western countries. Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, the three countries bordering Syria, were left to bear the brunt of the more than 6 million refugees looking for safety. Lebanon is a country of 5 million people, currently hosting 1 million Syrians! These countries cannot handle the strain of so many refugees. As a result, the conditions in the camps are dire. There isn’t enough of anything – clean drinking water, medicine, food, education.
The biggest struggle is for those with medical conditions. Simple to manage conditions like diabetes become a struggle for life and death in these conditions. Children and people injured in the fighting are not always able to get the care and rehabilitation they need.
When young people are displaced by violence, and they have no outlet for their trauma, and there is nowhere for them to go and nothing for them to do, are we really surprised when an organization like ISIS comes around offering them a release and they take it? By allowing these people to stew in a refugee camp with no future and no resources, we practically guarantee ISIS and other terrorist organizations more cannon fodder. Poverty is a huge motivator to join militia groups, and these groups prey on those who are in need. When you live in desperate circumstances and you don’t have enough to eat, and you’ve lost everything – the chance to get back at someone, to take the power back and the promise of a full belly can be enough. ISIS even offers to pay for the medical needs of some of these people’s families. By giving refugees a home and a future, we are fighting terrorism better than we can with drones and fighter jets.
Worldwide, the growing refugee crisis is a huge problem. We have the chance to do something about it now. Although the Canadian government has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the next few months, many of these are just going to be the government matching funds raised for private sponsorship, such as in the case of Sayf.
We are doing this for Hamza. We are doing it for Aylan Kurdi. We are doing it for all the people hoping for a better life. We’re doing it for ourselves, too. And we’re doing it for Sayf. Pay what you want till Dec 27th and help out!
Read the statement from our friends Jenny & Trevor, who are organizing the fundraiser, here.
Purchase the album from Bandcamp (not iTunes!) here.