New Brunswick

Syrian refugees raise funds to help Fort McMurray fire victims

A group of Syrian refugees in Fredericton has donated money to the Red Cross for victims of the fire in Fort McMurray.

'We are ready to receive all the families in Alberta ... our homes are their homes,' says Anas Khaddam

A group of Syrian refugees is raising funds to help the residents of Fort McMurray, who lost their homes in the wildfire. (Lauren Bird/CBC)

A group of Syrian refugees in Fredericton has donated money to the Red Cross for victims of the fire in Fort McMurray.

Anas Khaddam says the images of burning houses and neighbourhoods in Alberta this month hit close to home.

"We know what the fires mean," he said.

Khaddam and his wife Assil al Ammouri said they and other refugees want to help in any way they can.

"I can hear the voices of them when they are crying and shouting," al Ammouri said.

"I can see the fear and the scared in their eyes. It's hard, hard, hard when there is fire and you have to run away and you lose everything and you are alone."

Abdel-Karim Shihan donated his entire $1,376 monthly allowance to help the fire victims in Fort McMurray. He said his family of seven will make do without it. (CBC)
Having lost everything, most refugees don't have much to give.

Still, one man, Abdel-Karim Shihan, gave his whole government allowance for the month — $1,376.

Shihan, who arrived in Fredericton in January, said he will make do without it. 

Khaddam said their generosity comes from a sense of gratefulness for their new community.

"So we are ready to do anything, we are ready to go to Alberta," Khaddam said.

A Syrian couple who are all too familiar with the feeling of losing your home, help the people of Fort McMurray. 6:46
"We are ready to receive all the families in Alberta in our homes — our homes are their homes. The community of Canada is our community, so we are ready to do anything."

Mohammad Bakhash said he feels the same.

"It's a message of peace, that we feel all of their pain. When we see the views of the fires we remember," he said.

Khaddam said they aren't sure how much they've raised, but they collected from every refugee family in the city and they'll be setting up a drop-box in the lobby of the multicultural association for anyone who wants to give more.