Before we share Yara’s story, we believe it’s important to recognise the very real human toll of unnecessary wars. The weapons trade is big business all over the world – even in Australia – and while the issue might seem too big to make any difference on a personal level, it always comes back to profits.
Yara* is a 22-year-old refugee who fled war-torn Syria with her family seeking a better life. The impact that the war has had on her upbringing is difficult to hear but also inspiring. We hope her story is able to illuminate the issue on a personal level.
“Before I came to Australia, I grew up in Syria. In my home country, it had always been my dream to study medicine and help people who are suffering. I lost my father at a young age to cardiac problems, and from then my desire to specifically study medicine became a major goal in my life. I completed two years of a Medicinal Degree at Damascus University, with hopes to make an impact in my propelling my country forward by helping those who needed help most.”
“We had an enormous loving family in Syria. Things were never perfect, but we were happy and we had dreams of creating a wonderful life together in our country.
“Suddenly, all of that changed. Chaos and turmoil became the order of the day, checkpoints restrict movements, ‘social isolation’ became an ever-present reality, and with the incessant gunfire, bombing, and destruction, you are never more alone then you are in your mind. Yet you pray with every fibre of your being that you do not lose any loved ones. It is an impossible hope.”
“Over half a million humans have perished as a result of weapons of war in Syria alone. This conflict has torn our country apart and devastated the lives of a generation. Terrible conditions meant that my family was forced to split up and escape – reaching a point of no return and a shock I would not wish on anyone. Leaving behind my family, my friends, and my dreams – I left my country and said goodbye to my home.”
“My mother and I journeyed to Turkey before eventually arriving in Australia – not a bad choice, but in the end, we really had no choice. In coming to Australia, we started from nothing. Life moves in mysterious ways, and I am certainly blessed to be in this lucky country and find opportunity – despite the scars. I can maybe achieve a goal that the war has stolen from me.”
“I can find excitement in studying nursing at Western Sydney University as a pathway to eventually study medicine. I have done my best to benefit from all the opportunities given to me, completing a foundation course in English at the Bankstown Intensive English Centre. I have also completed a foundation course in Health, Science and Nursing at Western Sydney University.”
“However, our financial situation is difficult to manage. Even though I receive Youth Allowance from Centrelink, it barely covers the essentials. I am also a full-time student, so it is hard to get work due to my limited availability, work experience and relevant qualifications. This is affecting my study while causing anxiety and memories. Nonetheless, I press forward with the knowledge that I am safe, and immensely lucky – especially when I think about those I have been forced to leave behind due to the impact of weapons and war.”
“Now in 2020, many Syrian children have lost parents, siblings and close relatives. Half the population have been forced to flee homes destroyed as a result of the violent occupation, or explosive destruction. 2 million people are currently internally displaced and there are 5.6 million refugees due to the chaos of war. These are people with nowhere to call home, and often no ability to call for hope. While I am blessed to continue my education, we have 2.1 million children in Syria currently without school. I shudder to think what the latest global pandemic may do to my already decimated people.”
“While missiles, guns, tanks and drones have destroyed my country, today I stand up for my fellow humans who lost their lives, their hope, their futures unnecessarily. In this connected world of ours, it is our responsibility to seek out and understand our impact on all humans.”
Allah (swt) tells us that “If anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind.” Quran 5:32
“One very small way I can contribute is to monitor what impacts my money has and continue to tell the story of how guns and bombs have enabled the tragedy of generations.”
“Ultimately, I believe knowledge is power and sharing my horrible experience might result in a better world for all of us.”
*Name changed for this story.
Investing with consciousness
While Yara’s story is encouraging, she is still a long way from reaching her goals – goals that might have been achieved already had there been no war in Syria and no reason to flee to another country on the other side of the world.
Are you aware of how many superannuation providers make investments in nuclear weapons manufacturers and gun stocks? The reality might surprise you. Many publicly listed weapon and gun manufactures may be included within Australian Super fund portfolios. These companies include major names like Boeing, BAE Systems, Airbus Group and Lockheed Martin Corp – so do you really know what your money is supporting?
Your personal values and ethics aren’t only defined by what you do in your everyday life, but also with how you spend your hard-earned money.
Many of the major companies that traditional superannuation funds invest with have a vested interest in weapons manufacturing – this is simply because it’s such a profitable business. But you have an opportunity to divest your funds from nuclear weapons producers and guns distributors by taking a keen interest in where your super is actually going. It’s easy to sign up for just any super fund – it’s much harder to do the right thing and make sure you aren’t helping weapons manufacturers profit from war.
Your investment choices do have an impact, so it’s important to understand the values of what you are investing in and what your hard-earned dollars are actually funding. As an investor, you have control over where your money goes and what is done with it. By choosing an Islamic provider like Crescent Wealth, you know your money isn’t being funnelled to weapons manufacturers and distributors who are profiting off the years-long wars in places like Syria.
We will leave you with this statistic: In total, the global weapons industry sales in 2018 reached $420 billion USD, that’s 47% higher than in 2002. (This excludes Chinese arms manufacturers due to a lack of data to make a reliable estimate).
This should not be the case….
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Talal currently serves as a Non-Executive Director on the Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University Foundation Council Board. He also serves as Chairman of First Quay Capital and Chairman of the Australian Arab Dialogue. Talal has also served on the Australia Post, Board of Sydney Ports, Macquarie University and the Western Sydney Area Health Service and the Chairman of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Council of Australia Arab Relations. In an executive capacity, Talal spent 10 years at PwC as a director and strategist, and at investment firm Babcock & Brown in the Corporate Finance Group and later in the Technical Real Estate Division. Later Talal held leadership positions in Better Place Australia, Platinum Hearing and Star Transport Australia.