Nerve-racking Canada

With the influx of thousands of refugees from the Syrian war, everyone is wondering about the mental health services that they require.

But there are also other new Canadians in need of such services. They’ve been in need for a while now. These are economic immigrants who leave their home countries in search of better opportunities, but end up facing underemployment and experiencing threatened identities as a consequence.

I reported on this topic for over a year, in order to produce my Master’s thesis for the University of British Columbia. The full multimedia story can be found on this linkía text


Actually, you can walk downtown in 10 minutes (seriously?!)


[This post was written by Clea Machold and Valentina Ruiz Leotaud]

It’s hard to believe that it’s our last day in Jordan. 

After celebrating World Mental Health Day (usually Oct. 10, however, delayed this year) at a five star hotel in the heart of Amman’s business district, walking some of our favourite streets seemed like a good idea.

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OMG! They keep eating! (and so do we)

Oula's breakfast

Mid-morning snack at Jabal Amman. Photo: VRL.

Ever since we arrived in Jordan, we’ve repeated this expression almost everyday, so ‘why not turn it into a blog post?’ Hala said.

Well, here it is. Sigue leyendo

On Arabic hospitality (and kisses)

Photo by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

Jordanian-style picnic.

Marhaba! Hello! Nice to meet you!” we hear wherever we set foot on.

Despite the fact that Clea, Hala, and I are reporting on a very serious issue, this trip to Jordan has been filled with smiles. Sigue leyendo

Syrian refugees and mental health: New York Times piece

At Zaatari Refugee Camp, the second largest in the world. December 2014.

At Zaatari Refugee Camp, the second largest in the world. December 2014. Photo: Valentina Ruiz Leotaud.

In December 2014, a team from the University of British Columbia’s International Reporting Program visited Jordan to report on the mental health situation of the more than 600,000 Syrian refugees living in the country.

I was part of that team. We spent ten days in Amman -with a short visit to Irbid- reporting on the work of Bright Future for Mental Health, an organization founded by a Syrian psychiatrist who decided to provide services to his fellow countrymen and women after fleeing the country. The organization pays special attention to the mental well-being of children, who constitute more than half of the refugee population in Jordan.

The result of that reporting trip was published on The New York Times.


I also wanted to share some of the photos I took at Za’atari Refugee Camp, the second largest in the world with a population of 80,000 men, women, and children.

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A Jordanian bookseller

For the second time in less than a year, I’m back in Jordan for a reporting trip.

I came to Amman in December 2014 as one of the fellows in UBC’s International Reporting Program. I remember that back then I kept trying to soak up every little aspect of the experience, because I was convinced that it was very unlikely for me to come back to the Middle East any time soon.

Well, life had different plans. Sigue leyendo

Vancouver gets a taste of high-end South American cuisine

Sucking pig confit. Picture: ALTO Restaurante.

Sucking pig confit. Picture: ALTO Restaurante.

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