Canadians leave teddy bears on their doorsteps as 'Bears4BarhoChildren' goes viral
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 3:05PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 3:45PM EST
People from around the world have begun leaving out their stuffed animals on their doorsteps and window sills to honour the seven children who perished in a Halifax house fire.
Andrea Bennett started the movement with her cousin and she told CTVNews.ca they’ve been “overwhelmed with the amount of support this small gesture has brought.”
Her effort started as a way to honour each of the children of the Barho family, which had recently moved to Nova Scotia in September 2017 after fleeing war-torn Syria. The youngest of the seven children was only three months old with the oldest being 14.
The Barho house quickly caught fire early Tuesday morning. Their father, Ebraheim Barho, remains in critical condition in hospital after he tried saving his family. Mother Kawthar Barho has been distraught and has been repeating the name of the youngest child, according to The Canadian Press.
But in the aftermath of the tragedy, the Spryfield community in Halifax sought to rally together to find ways to honour the children. Bennett lives down the street from where the Syrian family had lived and initially posted about the teddy bear idea on Facebook.
In less than a day, neighbours and Canadians from across the country began leaving out stuffed animals on their porches and window sills. Bennett said one of her neighbours Erin Fletcher had come up with the hashtag “Bears4BarhoChildren.”
The hashtag quickly caught on and seemed to have sparked a worldwide movement.
“This symbolic gesture has united us not only as a community, city, province, nation, but worldwide. We have seen the hashtag used in Tokyo, Australia, and the U.S.,” she wrote to CTVNews.ca.
On Wednesday, Bennett also encouraged people to donate to a GoFundMe page which was started by a separate Nova Scotia resident. So far people have raised over $449,000 for the family.
Bennett had been inspired to start the movement after she’d taken her own family to the impromptu vigil for the children on Tuesday night. She told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday that she couldn’t “even comprehend what this family [was] going through.”
In the meantime, she said “they’re considering ways as to how to move this forward.”
Bennett said they will keep pushing to get “the message out there to the family, neighbours, emergency personnel that: we will still be thinking of them in the days, weeks, and months ahead.”