Chaker Khazaal is a Palestinian-Canadian writer and speaker on refugees and international aid.
Khazaal was born in 1987 in the Bourj el-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon to a Palestinian filmmaker father and and socio-political activist mother. His paternal grandfather and maternal grandparents were displaced from Palestine in 1948 following Nakba Day and became refugees in Lebanon.
When he was 17, he was awarded the prestigious Global Leader of Tomorrow Award by Toronto’s York University for his excellent academic and leadership skills to study film production and international studies. He immigrated to Canada in 2005.
After completing his studies in 2009, Chaker worked for Nations United, a Canadian platform for humanitarian organizations where he served as a public speaker. He was the creator and co-host of Nations United’s humanitarian web-reality show Faces of Transformation.
In April 2013, Chaker launched his first book – Confessions of a War Child – at the Société de lecture in Geneva, and later received the Award for Creativity from Princess Karen Cantrell of the Order of Saint Lazarus. Chaker’s most recent social media campaign included the 2014 Oscar nominated film Omar.
Chaker has become a prominent voice for Palestinian refugees, advocating for refugees to immigrate to countries where there are more opportunities.
At each age, I’ve had mentors from different parts of the world. Some that were working in the camp where I lived. And a mentor is not only a person that sits you down and explains to you how things should be. It’s a person whose own life journey inspires you.
But just by reading about them and following their life journey, their dreams, how they worked on their life, becomes these great lessons that you learn and you apply in your life.
Some of the mentors I’ve had… the first mentor I’ve had was an Australia lady. Her name was Helen Mecchia. And Helen was a very strong woman who came from Australia to Lebanon to work as a nurse and as a social worker. And she, for example, mentored me on how you should always travel and see the world and enjoy different places and different people.
Another mentor is Andrea Becker, a Canadian volunteer who worked in Lebanon as well back in 1997 or ’98. And the first night that Andrea came to Lebanon, Lebanon was bombed that night. We had a conflict break out and just seeing how she kept me calm and… although she was stressed out, I’m sure. That was a lesson you learn about resistance and about being strong and about believing that the morning is going to come out and it is going to be good.
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney & Andi Velazquez
Edited by: Ayse Nur Gencalp
Interviewed by: Laura Lehmann