CALGARY – Dozens of Syrian Muslim refugees have raced to donate blood at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Eau Claire to express their gratitude for the new life in Canada.
“We really wanted to come together across the country as a Syrian community and say in one loud voice that we are here to build, participate, integrate and to appreciate the support and the help that was given to Syrians,” Sam Nammoura, with the Syrian Refugee Support Group of Calgary, told The Star Calgary on April 14.
Nammoura helped organize a blood drive for the Syrian community back in January.
After the success of January’s event, Nammoura and other organizers thought they could organize another Canada-wide, in which more than 10 cities are participating.
Coast to coast, Syrian refugees eagerly participated to show thankfulness for a chance at a new life by donating blood to help other lives.
Reham Ghanam was 14 when her family fled Syria and headed to Lebanon. She was 16 when they finally arrived in Canada in late 2015.
“The last few years, there was war and there were so many people dying. So many people died because they lost blood,” the high school student said as she donated blood.
“It feels good when you try to save someone’s life by donating blood.”
Faddel Hattab is another refugee who came to Canada less than a year ago.
Participating in the blood drive was important to him because he wanted to give back to a community that has been so welcoming to him.
“I feel like this is something you’re able to do; you should do it. If we can do something to save a life, why not?” says Hattab.
“We have to remind people how important this is. Just recently, we had the tragedy in Humboldt, people lose blood in accidents like this, so I think everyone should be doing it.”
For Nammoura, giving blood is symbolic in Syrian culture.
“It’s a strong message of loyalty to the cause and a strong message to the commitment. So when you say, ‘I give you my blood,’ it emphasizes how serious you are in your dedication.”
He envisions more blood donation drives hosted by the Syrian community.
“We really want to make it a tradition for April 14: Syrian donation day,” he added.