Film detailing Syrian refugee’s Canadian success story gets Kuwaiti premiere

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: On the occasion of World Refugee Day, UNHCR in collaboration with the Embassy of Canada to Kuwait organized the screening of the award-winning film “Peace by Chocolate” at Grand Cinemas at Al-Hamra Shopping Center. In her opening remarks, Ambassador of Canada to Kuwait Aliya Mawani praised the deep and longstanding relationship between Canada and UNHCR. “We understand the importance of responsibility-sharing and international solidarity in responding to the needs of refugees. We are all affected by migratory flows, and it is important to collaborate and stay united to find solutions and offer protection to refugees,” she said.

Mawani said her country has a long tradition of welcoming refugees from all over the world. “All the people who come are part of our societies. As they contribute to Canada, our country becomes stronger and richer. Canada always makes sure they are included and have the education and support they need, and this is what this year’s theme of World Refugee Day is about — ‘Hope Away from Home”. To have hope, refugees need a meaningful way to create and build new lives,” she said. Regarding screening “Peace by Chocolate” in Kuwait, Mawani noted: “Kuwait has a very humanitarian tradition and is very supportive of refugees financially.

It is a big donor, and we saw this after the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Kuwait was one of the major donors — not just the government, but also the people of Kuwait.” “I’m so thrilled for the Kuwait premiere of this Canadian film whose central themes are love, inclusion and hope. The story of the Hadhad family is but one story – a very Canadian story – but is multiplied by millions of stories around the globe that demonstrate the resilience of refugees and the communities that host them, and what’s possible when we come together,” Mawani mentioned.

From left: Aliya Mawani, Kelly Clements, Chadi Dali and Nisreen Rubaian, UNHCR Representative to Kuwait, pose for a photo at the screening.

“Since our Syrian resettlement commitment was announced in November 2015, Canada has resettled a total of 44,650 Syrian refugees. We have committed to resettling another 140,000 refugees between 2023-2025, in addition to 40,000 Afghan refugees by the end of this year,” she added. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah stressed this occasion is a stand of solidarity with more than 100 million people around the world who were forced to flee their homes due to war, violence and persecution, especially as the world lives in a moment of unprecedented displacement. She added this day is not only a commemoration of World Refugee Day, but rather a tribute to their courage in the face of unimaginable conflicts and challenges, which requires all to take serious and pivotal action.

“While we gather here today in Kuwait, the center for humanitarian action, I call for the support of UNHCR and their efforts in securing and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and displaced people. We can make a difference,” Sheikha Rima said. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements expressed her appreciation to the government of Kuwait for its generosity and contributions. “These partnerships open doors to new opportunities for refugees and those who are away from their homes. Currently, more than 110 million people are forcibly displaced, and the sequence of protracted and new displacement situations has reached unprecedented levels in history,” she said.

“The star of the story, Tareq, was among the first group of refugees to be resettled in Canada in response to the ongoing conflict and escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria. The Canadian government’s plan paved the way for Tareq and his family’s journey. Tareq and his family were able to rebuild their chocolate company, offering a range of confections carrying messages of peace, which have resonated with chocolate loves worldwide,” she pointed out. Executive Producer of ‘Peace by Chocolate’ Chadi Dali noted there are many success stories in Canada, the world, and even in Kuwait, “but we chose this story because the family went to a small city of 5,000 people yet succeeded in reaching the world from this place”.

“We are thinking of producing and adopting success stories. The success stories mustn’t be documentaries because they no longer attract Generation Z. The story must be a drama and inspire people to succeed,” he explained. Dali said that the film was shown in most international cinemas. “The film is not just a great success story for the Hadhad family, who opened a chocolate factory and achieved international recognition. It is a success story for a country like Canada, which provided them with opportunities, and a success story for the Canadian people, who embraced this family and helped them integrate and succeed,” he said.

“The film has received 13 awards from its participation in over 25 international film festivals,” Dali said, praising Sheikha Rima. “Success is not only to be a goodwill ambassador for the UNHCR, but to work with great and organized efforts to collect more than $20 million to help refugees and be among one of the 100 most influential women in America. This is what Sheikha Rima Al-Sabah did when she was in America and is still doing this mighty work and much more here in Kuwait. Hats off!”

The post Film detailing Syrian refugee’s Canadian success story gets Kuwaiti premiere appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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