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.
When I am writing something new or a new chapter, I literally imagine the character…or not imagine, I get into it. The character sits next to me and we could chat, we could kiss. We could dance. We could have a glass of wine together. We could fight.
In the second book where I really enjoyed having those long nights where I sat down with my characters, especially one character. I mean, I truly fell in love. It was so hard after and I felt like… I’ve gone through breakups and it felt like a real breakup. Well, it is a real breakup but I was like I will see you in a few months when I start writing the third one.
A writer’s mind is… I don’t know. I am starting to learn that. It goes everywhere. You get into madness. You get into all sorts of things and I love this madness. It is lovely madness.
I literally try to disconnect as much as possible from my surrounding when I start writing, because when you are belonging to these characters, you need to give them their right and their time. You need to fall in love again with the characters. Maybe this is why I am single. (Laughs)
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney & Andi Velazquez
Edited by: Ayse Nur Gencalp
Interviewed by: Laura Lehmann