Once they arrive in Montreal, Syrian refugees have to start from scratch, and setting up a home is their main priority.
To help them with essentials, what appears to be a unique inter-communal project has developed in Nuns’ Island, thanks to the initiative of island real estate developer Sam Gewurtz and three neighbouring faith communities.
Gewurtz encouraged the Al Jazira Islamic Centre (280 Elgar), the Chabad Lubavitch of Nuns’ Island (235 Elgar), and the Roman Catholic Sainte Marguerite Bourgeoys (286 Elgar) to work together for humanity.
Imam Mourad Bendhennet, Mgsr. Roger Dufresne, and Rabbi Levik Itkin embraced the idea, and urged their communities to help. The result is called Collectif pour l’Unité, and is now engaged in its first project, to collect goods that destitute Syrian refugees need to settle successfully into their new homes.
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Unitarian Church of Montreal
According to Dora Douik, wife of Imam Bendhennet, all three communities have been generous and enough clothes have been collected at the island warehouse, 1000 Ch. du Golfe, where refugees have been taking what they need for winter wear.
In the spirit of helping new neighbours, Pierre Varadi and Alex Kestenbaum of real estate Groupe Canvar offered use of the 3,000 square foot surface in their building free of charge. The need now is for kitchen items — utensils, dishes, cookware, and small appliances — in good condition, Douik says.
“I believe this project, where refugees can come and select what they need, is unique in Quebec, perhaps in Canada.”
Info: 514-586-8447, or on Facebook, Collectif pour l’Unité –IDS – Réfugiés Syriens.