Nfld. & Labrador

Giving life for life: Syrian refugees line up to give blood in St. John's

A group of nine Syrian refugees give blood in St. John's, to say thank you to the country that took them in.

'We are safe, we have great opportunities to build our future,' said Mohamed Al Maksour

This group of Syrian refugees gave blood on Friday afternoon in St. John's. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

A group of Syrian refugees now living in St. John's say it's their way of saying, 'Thank you.'

On Friday, Mohamed Al Maksour, who works as a translator at the Association for New Canadians, organized a trip to Canadian Blood Services in St. John's for himself and eight other Syrians.

"Our visit is a kind of saying thank you to this country, which is now our country," he told the St. John's Morning Show. "It's a kind of contribution, that we belong to this country."

It was a sentiment repeated in a handwritten letter to "the generous country which helped us and saved our souls."

This is part of the letter the group of Syrian refugees brought to the Canadian Blood Services office on Friday. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

'We survived'

Al Maksour and his wife fled the ongoing war in Syria and arrived in St. John's in May of 2016.

They've since had a baby — "a Newfoundlander," he said — and Al Maksour is working and taking classes.

"We are safe. We have great opportunities to build our future," he said.

Mohamed Al Maksour is a translater at the Association for New Canadians and a refugee from Syria. (Paula Gale/CBC)

He's even starting to adjust to winter, he said, and to the Newfoundland way of speaking.

"When I first arrived, the accent — even though I was an English teacher in Syria — the accent here was confusing here a little bit for me," he said, laughing.

Al Maksour said Friday's donation was the first of what he hopes will be many — he wants to organize a weekly blood donation by people at the Association for New Canadians.

"All as group would like to save other people['s lives]," he said. 

"This is nothing compared to what Canada offered for us. Canada saved our lives."

With files from Zach Goudie