Afghan refugees treated to holiday shopping spree for essentials
TORONTO -- A group of Afghan refugees in the Toronto area got their first taste of a quintessentially Canadian holiday shopping spree thanks to the generosity of donors.
At a Walmart location in Mississauga, Ont., 100 refugees from Afghanistan were given $400 gift cards. It was an opportunity for these newcomers to stock up on the essentials, as they've only been in Canada for a few months.
This initiative was possible thanks to Hamid Hakimi of Elite Developments, who pledged $200,000 to help Afghan refugees through shopping events like this one, along with the Afghan Women's Organization in Toronto.
"Today's been a really heartwarming day for us," Hakimi told CTV News.
For Hakimi, who also fled Afghanistan at the age of five with his parents, it was a chance for him to give back.
"We've come here as immigrants and refugees as well, many, many years ago," he said. "We know the difficulties and challenges that each and every one of them faced, including ourselves, and just knowing that we can give back to the ones that are in the same position that we were in, it feels great."
For Hamid Ullah Noori, who came to Canada a month ago, the Walmart gift cards allowed him to buy pillows, a mattress, furniture and kitchen appliances.
"It's really important for us. When we came to Canada, we had nothing. We really need the basic needs," he said.
The kids went right for the toys, with donors providing extra cash for a few fun items. Others headed for the clothing aisles to prepare for their first Canadian winter. Jamil Alkozai, who worked in public affairs and communication at the Canadian embassy in Kabul, had to leave behind all of his possessions when he fled.
"Everything is strange here, even the atmosphere. The weather is changing, minute to minute," he told CTV News.
It's welcome support for families who have left a life behind. Hamid Sultani spent 10 years working as a security guard, driver and interpreter with the Canadian embassy in Kabul before he and his family fled to Canada in August.
"Two days before Taliban came to take the power in Afghanistan, we came to Canada. I am so glad, and I am so happy for the Canadian people," he told CTV News.