Syrian refugees in Calgary step up to help Fort McMurray fire evacuees, when Rita Khanchet saw images of a vicious wildfire destroying homes and uprooting tens of thousands of people in Fort McMurray, she immediately thought of Syria, the homeland she fled just five months ago with her husband and young son.
“It’s not easy to lose everything. We can understand them more than anyone in Canada. We were in the same situation,” said Khanchet, who lives in Calgary.
“Me and my family wanted to do something for these people. Canadian society helped us when we came to Canada.”
Syrian refugees across Calgary are now giving what little they have to northern Albertans, after Khanchet posted an appeal in Arabic on a private Facebook group the newcomers created and frequent.
“Canadians gave us everything. And now it’s time to return the favour,” A fellow Syrian refugee translated and shared Khanchet’s post with a wider community on the Syrian Refugee Support Group page, and within hours offers of help came in from new Canadians 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.”