“Having been on the receiving end of charity, I got issues with the traditional aid models,” proclaims Chaker Khazaal, the author of the ‘Confessions of a War Child’ trilogy.
"It rarely empowers the receiver, but rather creates a dependent community. I got to have no respect or belief in that approach of traditional charity models.”
Chaker manages a for-profit program that offers refugees and migrants contractual remote employment in e-marketing, graphics, social media management and web development. “Today and with advanced communication methods - the internet, social media, etc. - it is easier to identify talents among refugees and invest.”
Chaker is also a public speaker and contributes to various publications, including The Huffington Post. His talks typically focus on refugee advocacy, placing special emphasis on the economic empowerment of refugees.
A refugee himself, Khazaal grew up in the Bourj El Barajneh camp in Beirut. Yet, unlike the crushing majority of exiles, his fate has taken a different path.
After immigrating to Canada, Khazaal was selected as one of four recipients of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow Award. Consequently, he studied at York University in Toronto and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in International Development Studies. Such opportunities are very scarce however. The Global Leaders of Tomorrow Award only selects four individuals each year.
Khazaal is intent on replicating his experience at scale: Traditional charity creates a dependable generation he says, "the focus should be on economic empowerment instead."
Khazaal has authored three novels, inspired by his travels to refugee camps and conflict zones, and is currently working on his fourth.
In 2015, Esquire Middle East named him Man of the Year, and in 2016, he topped the list of 100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40 published by Arabian Business Magazine. In the same year, he was presented with the Mentor Arabia Award by Queen Silvia of Sweden and Prince Turki Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. And in December 2016, he was awarded the Global Trailblazer together with Arianna Huffington by New York based NGO Bridges of Understanding.
Chaker has also cooperated with the Social Enterprise Project in Jordan to design the Chaker Scarf, embroidered by Palestinian refugees in Jordan.