Many Syrian refugees have stepped up to help their Canadian neighbors after learning about mandatory evacuations caused by out-of-control wildfires.
Five months ago, Rita Khanchet made the trek from her homeland in Syria to Canada with her husband and young son. Like many refugees, she had few possessions but was optimistic about the future.
You can imagine, then, how frightening it was to learn that her new neighbors were being forced to flee their homes in the wake of the devastating wildfires in Canada.
The compassionate samaritan told the Calgary Herald:
“It’s not easy to lose everything. We can understand them more than anyone in Canada. We were in the same situation. Me and my family wanted to do something for these people. Canadian society helped us when we came to Canada.”
After Khanchet wrote an appeal in Arabic on a private Facebook group, Syrian refugees in Calgary started giving what little they have to northern Albertans.
“(Canadians) gave us everything. And now it’s time to return the favour,” she wrote.
It was after a fellow refugee translated her post to share with a wider community on the Syrian Refugee Support Group page that offers of help came pouring in from around the country. Reportedly, many feel indebted to their Canadian neighbors and are determined to give back to their new home.
“All the Syrians are saying, ‘I’m ready to give, I’m ready to give’,” said Saima Jamal, a co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group.
“It’s amazing. You have to understand how little these guys have . . . But they understand the idea of an entire city losing their home. That’s something they can easily relate to. They went through that,” he added.
With donations of whatever they can afford—some just $5 or $10—the new Canadians are doing just that. The funds will be used to purchase hygiene items for evacuees from Fort McMurray, items the refugees received themselves just months ago.
When Khanchet told her five-year-old son of the wildfires and displaced families, he immediately gathered up his toys to give them to other children.
“We understand what they’re feeling. When you lose everything, you have to start from zero. You lose your memories, your items. It’s not easy. It’s something very sad. We can totally understand their feeling,” Khanchet said.
“We are very thankful to the Canadian people and we want to be a part of this society. We will do our best to be a good part of this society. By doing that, maybe we can return a little bit of the great job that Canadian people did for us.”
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