A devastating wildfire in the western Canadian oil city of Fort McMurray forced over 88,000 residents to flee the area, leaving their communities, homes and prized possessions behind. The raging flames have not only turned the sky in to a massive black cloud of smoke, its intensity has even forced emergency officials and rescue personnel to evacuate the makeshift tents erected in the city.
Uprooting your entire life and resettling somewhere else because of a situation that is out of your control is a traumatic experience, to say the least. Along with the temporary shelters provided by the government, a number of people in the nearby towns and cities have also opened their houses for the victims of the natural disaster.
Among those trying to help the evacuees is a group of people who, in an experience quite similar, had to leave their homes and entire lives behind in search of a safe haven — Syrian refugees.
“It’s not easy to lose everything. We can understand them more than anyone in Canada. We were in the same situation,” said Rita Khanchet, a Syrian immigrant who recently arrived in Calgary. “Me and my family wanted to do something for these people. Canadian society helped us when we came to Canada.”
She is just one of the refugees who are trying to give back to the country that adopted them with what little they have. While some of them are collecting necessary supplies and making hampers, others are collecting $5 donations. Considering these newcomers have just arrived, even five bucks is a big amount of money for the most of them.
“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.”
It is a beautiful sentiment and quite commendable.
Syrian refugees in Canada aren't immune to the wildfires either. After seeing firsthand the troubles and tribulations of fleeing one's home, some had to once again uproot their lives due to the out-of-control blaze in Fort McMurray.
Amany Darwish, president of the Canadian True Power organization, believes six families of Syrian refugees safely fled the destruction in Fort McMurray.