Join Us to Make a Difference – Become 1 of the 33

– written by Laura-Jean Bernhardson, CEO and Founder of Fresh Collective

A few months ago a woman messaged me through Facebook, asking for help for herself and her family. They were trapped in a very dangerous area in Syria and trying to get out. There were bombings, not enough food and danger everywhere. Her name is Ramia, she has 4 kids and a husband and her family dreams of a safe place to live and a future for the children.

The pictures she sent of her kids pulled at my heart, and I thought, “What would I do, as a mother, if I was in that impossible situation? What lengths would I go to to start a better life for my kids?”  

Every message I got, every few weeks when Ramia could get internet, contrasted sharply with my life. As I send my son off to school or to play at the park, with a belly full of nourishing food, I see Ramia’s struggle to keep her spirits up and her family safe. I see her giving her kids hope that if they get to Canada, they can go to school and have a good life.


These are Ramia’s own words that she sent along with pictures of her children, who range in age from 2 – 11. At one point in our relationship and their journey to a safer life, she told us they walked for 8 hours through dangerous mountains to get to a safer area


As the story unfolded, it turned out she was in contact through Facebook with some other Canadians who were connected to the Syrian refugee cause – from Vancouver to Toronto – and through her persistence, she got us all together working on a plan to help her.

All of us were moved by Ramia’s story, tenacity and ingenuity in finding us and getting us together to help her. She is studying English and wants to be a teacher.

Those of us in Toronto met, and worked long distance with the others to devise a plan to get the family out of Syria to safety, then over to Canada to start a new life.


Many times all we had to offer her was hope and love as she updated us on their conditions. We would promise to stay in touch and keep hope alive, but the first step to getting them to Canada was up to them. They had to get out of Syria, and that is risky.


She kept us updated when she could get internet, as the family moved closer to the border to try to get into Lebanon and as her husband had a stroke. She sent pictures of the kids colouring Canadian flags and told us how she felt there was hope for her family in Canada. Food has been very scarce. The conditions are terrible, and we can get them out.


ramia 3

Ramia and the children are now in a border region waiting with tens of thousands of others to get out of Syria. Ramia’s husband is now out of Syria in Lebanon, receiving treatment for the stroke he suffered and working when he can get work. He is living with 12 people. We can bring him to Canada, and the rest of the family can join him when we have raised the money and the paperwork is processed. We need to raise at least $33,000 to do this.



We have a sponsor group through Community Matters. We are now at the fundraising stage, and are asking for your help.

We are creating a group of 33 people across Canada, each committed to raising $1,000 in their community. We will support you in coming up with a plan and succeeding at it.

If you’re interested in joining us as one of the 33, click here for more info and to sign up.

What kind of people can join the 33? Anyone who wants to make a difference. Ordinary people can do this. In fact, if you can simply inspire 33 people to each donate 33 dollars, we will have more than enough.

You may be:

  • A community leader in your school, workplace, church, mosque or synagogue
  • Someone in the media with a following – you have a popular blog or other kind of audience
  • A small business owner
  • Someone with a large group of family and friends


Ways you can work to raise the $1000:

  • Do a fundraiser in your community
  • Do an initiative with your business
  • Share on social media and ask 33 people to donate $33 each

How we will support you (and each other):

Through our secret Facebook group, we will keep in touch with each other, sharing our fundraising successes and challenges and learning as we go.

People in this Facebook group will keep sharing the incredible story and sharing the initiatives that are going on to raise the funds. We’ll share your efforts, coach you on next steps and work together to help this brave woman and her children.

The story will be created as we grow our group, work together to raise funds and see the money raised grow.

Find out more about joining us as one of the 33. Click here for more info and to sign up.

If you are not able to join us as one of the 33, please consider an individual donation here.

*** All pictures were used with permission from Ramia ****


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About freshcollective

Fresh Collective has carved out its niche in Toronto’s fashion scene for the shopper who loves something a little different! We specialize in local designers, and our products are unique, or few of a kind. Our store is beautifully curated, offering our customers an amazing selection of fabulous clothing and accessories.

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