Syrians in Calgary rolled up their sleeves while images of airstrikes in Damascus were still on their minds. The local community participated in the Syrian Canadian Donation Day on Saturday, joining others from 10 different cities in the wake of waves military strikes in their home country from joint forces from the U.S., U.K. and France.
“All those targets are among civilian areas so nobody [knew] what may happen. A small mistake may kill hundreds of people,” said volunteer Hiba Djeddi.
“Do you think that will stop chemical attacks? To bomb a few buildings through a few areas? It won’t. So, I find it useless.”
Sam Nammoura of the Calgary Immigrant Support Society received a panicked message from his niece during the attack.
“She texted me from WhatsApp saying ‘oh my goodness uncle, they are bombing us, the whole city is shaking,'” he said.
Organizers said giving blood is ingrained in Syrian culture and it’s mandatory for graduating from university and obtaining a driver’s license. For others who were donating, the airstrikes are a reminder of the ongoing war and the need to help patients regardless of where they live.
“Many [Syrians] are dying because they just don’t have blood to be donated. That’s the reason that makes me motivated to donate blood, but the main reason is I would like to blood for anyone who is in need. It doesn’t matter if they are from my home country,” said Fadel Hattav.
Zaki Muais has been living in Calgary for almost 20 years. While donating for the first time he said it’s his way to give back to Canada. As for his home country, he said sometimes, all he can offer is prayers.
“I ask my god to help the children over there, the women over there and everybody over there,” he said.
Saturday’s drive drew in 27 donors. Those involved filled the 20 spots available while Canadian Blood Services was able to accommodate walk-ins. The organization says it has enough blood on its shelves but it’s looking for new donors.