SOURCE: Project Toronto Welcomes

Project Toronto Welcomes


October 09, 2015 06:00 ET

Project Toronto Welcomes (PTW) Launches #WWYB Challenge

Canada: What Would You Bring? You have 10 minutes. GO!

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 09, 2015) - Imagine you have 10 minutes to pack a bag and you can never go home again. What would you bring? This is the #WWYB Challenge that Project Toronto Welcomes (PTW) is putting to Canadians this Thanksgiving weekend. As we gather to celebrate, and give thanks for our good fortune, PTW is calling on all Canadians to stop -- take 10 minutes -- and put themselves in a refugee's shoes.

Private sponsor group Project Toronto Welcomes has created the WHAT WOULD YOU BRING (#WWYB) social media campaign to create awareness and empathy for strangers a world away.

"The #WWYB Challenge is an affecting experience," explains Debbie Rix, PTW group member. "The refugee crisis can seem overwhelming and distant, if you can understand, even for a moment, the fear, and desperation of choosing to pack a bag and having to leave everything else behind; then we hope that you can also understand that being able to do something to help is a privilege."

The #WWYB campaign was created in the face of misconceptions and negative perceptions that threaten to cloud Canada's inherently welcome approach to newcomers.

As most refugees arrive with only one bag, the #WWYB Challenge encourages Canadians to pack a bag in 10 minutes and then show what they brought by posting photos and videos to social media sites with the tag #WWYB. The web site ( will feature posts collected from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, along with news, information and updates on the PTW fundraising campaign. The inspiration for the #WWYB Challenge came from an International Rescue Committee story published earlier this year: What's In My Bag.

PTW group members have taken the #WWYB Challenge and used the opportunity to open dialogue with their families about the refugee crisis; inviting all Canadians to do the same. Canadian musician and mother of two toddlers Damhnait Doyle is a member of PTW, and she unpacked her bag here. Grade 4 student Kai opened up his bag here, high school student James laid it all out here, and yoga teacher and grandmother Bibi unpacked her bag here.

"It's astonishing to see how little of your life you can carry with you," said Rix. "When you look at what's laid out, it's fascinating to see what people chose. Ultimately it's gut-wrenching to think 'What would I bring?' and realize it's not going to be much."

Wes Tyrell, noted Canadian editorial cartoonist, contributed this illustration to help Canadians wrap their heads around the refugee experience.

The Syrian problem is enormous -- and the process of sponsoring a refugee family may be complex, but doing something to help is simple. Take the #WWYB Challenge.

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Formed through Facebook, Project Toronto Welcomes is a group of approximately 30+ people who came together out of a common desire to do something concrete and practical to ease the humanitarian crisis emanating from Syria. Many of the members haven't met in person yet, but all are united and committed to the sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family and supporting their resettlement in Toronto.

Project Toronto Welcomes is proud to be part of the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, the first organization in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to commit to sponsoring 25 Syrian families or 100 refugees in cooperation with the citizen lead group Lifeline Syria.

Along with a pledge of personal funds, PTW has a fundraising goal of $30,000 in order to be able to sponsor a larger family and to cover the high cost of living in Toronto. Donations can be made at

Although the group is conducting much of its activity in the virtual world, there are some very real, traditional fundraising events planned by individual members. Events include a Syrian-themed dinner in a private home, a night of comedy, a wine tasting, an evening of music with silent auction, and a good old-fashioned bake sale.

Damhnait WWYB:
Maggie WWYB:
Dina WWYB:
Jeff WWYB:
Victoria WWYB:
Graeme WWYB:
Steve WWYB:

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