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Random Acts of Kindness

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Selfless strangers help stranded Iraqi refugees

Posted: 06/18/2014 2:00 PM | Comments: 0

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RECENTLY I was, in a way, a witness to many wonderful acts of kindness.

A family who fled Iraq to escape the war only to end up in another war in Syria had been granted refugee status here in Canada. They had endured two days of travel, making it to Winnipeg, with their final stop to be Regina. There, a sponsor was waiting to help this family of six. They left their homeland with very little, headed to a place they didn’t speak the language or know anyone.

Unfortunately, the matriarch of the family took ill and needed medical assistance. The family had to deplane just before leaving for Regina. The airline rescheduled them on the next flight, which was just a few hours away. If they didn’t make that flight, they couldn’t fly out until the Tuesday after the long weekend. A small team of people took it upon themselves to look out for this family.

A man named George, who works at the airport and speaks Arabic, helped with translation. Paramedics and hospital staff helped support this family. WEMS paramedics and supervisors arranged to transport the entire family to hospital to keep them together, then ensured they had a place to stay and something to eat.

Staff at Grace Hospital worked to help the mother with her medical issues. They even reached into their own pockets to buy the family a meal.

The paramedics found a hotel that would put them up for a night, then called their union for support. Michelle Gawronsky left work at MGEU and spent hours helping arrange the hotel stay.

Eventually this family made it to Regina, in large part because of the support of this group of people.

I wish I had all their names so I could identify those selfless strangers. Witnessing these acts of kindness inspired me, but did not surprise me given the selflessness of Winnipeggers.

This story shows the strength of our community, across languages and cultures, in supporting those making a fresh start here in Canada.

— Chris Broughton

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