A Toronto Muslim entrepreneur has been praised as a “shining example of Canadian compassion” after spending $50,000 to help hundreds of Afghan refugees arriving in Canada.
Wais Habibzai, a Toronto property developer who fled to Canada from Afghanistan in 1992, has launched a personal aid effort to provide clothes and other necessities for refugees who escaped Kabul, The Globe And Mail reported.
Habibzai has been visiting hotels each day to find out what those refugees who managed to reach Canada need.
He has also recruited Afghan family and friends to translate and has been raising thousands of dollars to top up the $50,000 he has spent himself.
In the past weeks, Habibzai bought underwear, shoes, jeans and shirts, bottles and baby formula and personal hygiene products for refugees. He has also bought chocolate, candy and toys for children, as well as prayer mats, and hijabs.
“I said: ‘Give me a list of what you need. I will go buy it: diapers, milk, you name it. One man said: ‘I have only one pair of underwear’. They were always asking for necessities like this,” he explained.
The huge effort won praise from Marco Mendicino, minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship, who said welcoming the Afghans “wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of Wais and so many others like him.”
“As Afghan refugees sought shelter from persecution and war, Canada stepped up. And as refugees now begin new lives in Canada, Canadians are stepping up. Few embody that spirit better than Wais Habibzai. Wais is a shining example of Canadian compassion,” he said.
“And as a refugee himself he’s the living embodiment of Canada’s ‘intergenerational cycle of immigration’ where each generation of newcomers welcomes the next.”
Hundreds of Afghan refugees fled the country after the fall of Kabul to Taliban in August 15.
With the refugees’ arrival, several Muslim groups have been leading effort to help refugees in their new homes.
For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been coordinating efforts to collect donations to refugees in Baltimore mosques.
Several mosques and Muslim organizations from across the US have been racing to welcome refugees coming with US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan.
In the UK, mosques were “overwhelmed” with donations to help refugees as well.