TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 27: A Syrian refugee family, sponsored by a local group called Ripple Refugee Project, pose for photos. Lots are: Reemas Al Abdullah, 5 (little girl), Sawsan Al Samman (red coat), Nahla Al Abdullah (older lady), Aya Al Abdullah, 8 (girl), Anais Al Abdullah (brown coat), Mohamad Al Abdullah (white shirt), Oais Al Abdullah (orange sweater) and Abdullah Al Abdullah (black coat). Friends of Syria hosted a dinner for refugees at the Toronto Port Authority. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Jessica Nameh

I’m from the city of Jasmine Damascus in Syria. My story is so unexpected. I could never have imagined what was going to happen to me in my life. In Syria when the war started there was a lot of fighting. Armies tried to protect us but there were many terrorists who had strong weapons. They destroyed the house where I was born and had always lived in. We barely survived and were forced to run away. We moved to a safe city in Damascus called Jaramana.

Sometime later my uncle was killed in a powerful explosion. This made us sad and afraid again. The terrorists continued to throw mortar shells and bombs in Damascus. People died every day. It hurt to see women, children and men die for no reason. The killing was non-stop for six years. My parents decided that we must leave our country since it had become impossible to live with war. My mom has cancer and had started her treatment in Syria. We hoped to come to Canada as fast as possible for her health as well. Leaving Syria broke my heart. At sixteen it felt as though the problems of the world were on my shoulders.

When we finally arrived in Canada it was as though a bright light had entered my dark life. I now had a new chance for a better future and to achieve my dreams. I began my new school. I realized it was time to stand tall, rebuild myself, become stronger and face life’s challenges. I had been pushed down but it was my choice to either stay on the ground or stand up again.

Canada has given me everything I need. A great education system, helpful, kind teachers, a safe life and new friends from all over the world. Meeting new comers and learning their stories has given me courage. After just two months I feel Canada is now my home. It is a warm place in spite of the snow. Canada makes me love life again and believe in miracles. My mother continues her treatment and her health improves daily. While I miss Syria and the family and friends I left behind, I walk forwards carrying my sacred memories.

Canada saved my life.

My Canada is a country of hope and love.

Canada is my home.