‘Heaven on earth’: Asylum seekers get help from Montreal organization
WATCH ABOVE: An organization that helps refugee seekers who arrive in Montreal says that despite an increasing number of people claiming refugee status, newcomers are still getting the services they need. Global’s Paola Samuel reports.
More than 600 people crossed into Canada from the Quebec-U.S. border seeking asylum, something Mohammed Al Hashemi is all too familiar with.
Two years ago, Al Hashemi was visiting the United States when war broke out in his home country of Yemen. Despite his wife and three daughters still being there, the family decided that the best option was to seek refuge up north.
“Thanks for Canada,” he said at a news conference Wednesday.
“Thanks for the values of Canada that are respected all over the world and thanks to Canadians who are welcoming.”
To get here, Al Hashemi did what he thought was his only option. He paid a smuggler $2000 to get him from Buffalo to Plattsburgh and then traveled to the border to cross it on foot.
“He leads you the way, it’s about one and a half kilometres more or less, and he just tells you to run over there – and you get scared to run,” Al Hashemi said.
Canada has seen a sharp increase in refugee claimants and more come in through Quebec than any other province.
That’s where the organization PRAIDA comes in. Located at the YMCA Residence, the organization offers housing and support to refugees to help with their integration.
Al Hashemi credits PRAIDA for helping him get his life on track by not only housing him, but also helping him find work and an apartment.
He worked as a lawyer in Yemen but now works two jobs, including one in a factory, but that hasn’t discouraged him. He is grateful for his new country, calling it “Heaven on Earth.”
“It’s the most secure country and the most welcoming country,” Al Hashemi said.
The only thing he is missing now is his loved ones, hoping to be reunited with his family within 18 months.
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