Former refugee in Winnipeg wants to help those fleeing Ukraine

By Alex Karpa

A former refugee living in Winnipeg is preparing for the arrival of Ukrainians fleeing their homeland amidst a humanitarian crisis brought on by the ongoing Russian invasion.

“There are no words. It’s just a terrible thing that is happening over there,” said Omar Rahimi, Founder of Hire A Refugee.


Person kneeling in the street crying into their hands. (Photo Courtesy: Omar Rahimi)

Rahimi and his family lived in a refugee camp in Iraq before moving to Winnipeg in 2001.

“My family suffered for many years. So now when you see what is happening, it brings a lot of memories back. We are very stressed, stressed to see people suffer like that, similar to us,” he explained.


Omar Rahimi, Founder of Hire A Refugee. (Photo Courtesy: Omar Rahimi)

In 2016, Rahimi started ‘Hire A Refugee,’ a project to help newcomers find work.

“It could be any job. It could be coaching a soccer team, it could be shovelling snow, it could be painting, garbage removal. Things that don’t need a lot of English. A lot of hard work, easy work, it doesn’t matter. All kinds of jobs.”

Thursday marks three weeks since Russia began its war on Ukraine, decimating cities and killing and displacing civilians in the process.

More than 3 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with many Central and Western European countries taking in refugees.


Ukrainians cross bridge from a boat. (Photo Courtesy: Omar Rahimi)

Applications for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel were opened by the federal government Thursday.

Rahimi says he wants to pay it forward, help out these refugees, just as he and his family were helped when they settled in Winnipeg.

“We are going to go above and beyond to help them if they have a chance to come here. We would be more than happy to help.”

Rahimi says the war in Ukraine is bringing back memories of their journey.

“It is tough man. To see those people in Ukraine going through a similar situation that we did, it’s heartbreaking.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today