#PeaceByChocolate; #TareqHadhad; #Syrians; #Lebanon; #UnitedNations; #TorontoReferenceLibrary; #VasudhaSharrma; #Antigonish, #NovaScotia; #ESL
Toronto, Jul 29 (Canadian-Media): The story 'Peace By Chocolate' narrated by Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee to Canada, at Toronto Reference Library on Jul 19 to a large audience, contains a universal message of peace for the people of all nationalities.
Vasudha Sharma and Tareq Hadhad
Vasudha Sharrma, Broadcast Journalist, Web Writer, video Producer,| Social Media Storyteller, who was interviewing Hadhad, Hadhad narrated that while in Syria, his father's flourishing chocolate business of 20 years as well as as much of their homeland was destroyed due to a bombing, which forced him and his family to leave everything behind and flee to Lebanon, a sovereign state in Western Asia.
For three years they lived in a refugee camp with little opportunity or hope. Then with the help of some friends they were able to cross the Lebanon border again without taking anything.
Having no friends, they registered as refugees at United Nations (UN) and like the rest of the refugees were given numbers.
While waiting at the UN office for registration, when officer started calling the refugees not by their names but by their numbers, Hadhad did not reply when his number was read aloud.
When asked by the officer the reason for not replying, he replied that he was not a number. He felt humiliated that UN did not consider him as Syrian, not even Lebanese but only a refugee.
Next day he again went to UN an offered to volunteer in the health care, the field in which he was experienced, as he did not like to rely on the refugee fund.
Hadhad helped set up many health care centres and ultimately when his family was invited into Canada they felt their dreams were coming true.
But when he announced the news of their immigration to Canada, all the family members including his siblings said, “but Canada is too cold.”
After arriving in Canada, Hadhad remarked more than Canadian Government, it was about the Canadians who had raised funds to sponsor Syrians to Canada even without knowin them.
When Hadhad with his family arrived in Toronto, Canada in 2015, they were welcomed and Hadhad realized that these Canadians did not care about their colour, cast or ethnicity. Their main concern was the safety of his family of 9 members.
Vasudha Sharma then asked Hadhad to throw light on Peace of Chocolate business.
Hadhad continued that after moving to Canada in December 2015, he with his family settled in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. His father was much interested in starting their own chocolate business and started brewing the chocolate that his father did 30 years back.
History repeated itself and soon they were able to rebuild their chocolate company and in 2016 Hadhad founded Peace by Chocolate.
Having worked as a physician in Syria, Hadhad wanted to pursue his career in medicine, due to a great shortage of physicians in Nova Scotia.
But Hadhad did not want to take away any body’s job there and added he had come to Canada to create new jobs with their skills and not take other people’s jobs.
He decided in favour of chocolate business because of their previous experience and their business began to grow.
Hadhad’s family registered with the farmers’ market but were not much hopeful that a small community of 4000 people of Antigonish would come to the farmer’s market to purchase the chocolate.
But their amazing response encouraged their business which grew in 3 months, instead of his father’s earlier prediction that it would take at least 20 years before the business could be established.
Hadhad said the message at the core of the company was about spreading peace and added they had started the company more for a cause than to do business.
Hadhad said “hate and intolerance sell very easily”, peace along with love were noble values on earth.
He soon learnt that the story about their business was being broadcoasted nation wide.
When asked By Vasudha what advice he would give to the new refugees coming to Canada, he replied that tolerance, hard work and perseverance, their entrepreneurship to help their community would be their greatest assets.
Many Syrian refugees who had earlier left for Alberta to seek jobs due to unemployment, were called back to Nova Scotia by Hadhad, who offered them jobs in his own business
During the question and answer session with the audience, Hadhad was asked what motivated him to learn the English language and be successful in business, apart from his family’s entrepreneurship.
Hadhad replied that besides being welcomed warmly by the Antigonish community, it organized tours and offered his family everything although they could not speak even one word of English. Other helpful assets were the resources offered both by the community and the local libraries there. Hadhad added that his father’s distribution of free chocolates to the community members opened connection with everybody in Antigonish.
Being in the medical profession, he had to learn all the ins and outs and ABCs of the business like accounting, business number, registering the business as well its marketing, best example of which is the slogan on the package of the chocolate: One Peace Won’t Hurt. He said they learnt much about the country from various resources of the libraries as well as community.
When asked if had been interviewed by Ted Talk, Hadhad replied he had this opportunity once in Montreal and the other time in Dalhousie University.
He was also asked by the audience if Hadhad and his family had explored licensing the products to the other countries.
To this Hadhad replied that within a few weeks products would be available from coast to coast.
When being asked to give advice for English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for adult new comers, Hadhad said after spending 3 months in the local library of Antigonish to learn the English language, his advice was that newcomers to the country should not be compelled or rushed to learn English language. Instead there should be interpreters in the room to understand the concerns of the newcomers. One-on-one tutoring and the help of the volunteers in teaching the new comers would be very helpful. Hadhad added that new immigrants learn more from the support of community members than by lesson curriculum in the library. In the end he stressed a great need of a unified method of teaching English to the new immigrants.
The last question by the audience was which was his favourite chocolate. Hadhad replied that although he liked all brown chocolate, his favourite was the one on which PEACE was written in various languages such as Arabic, French, Punjabi as well as in indigenous languages.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)