A young Syrian refugee, received in Montreal in winter 2016 by representatives of the Red Cross equipped with boots and warm coats for him and his family, goes to work in a CHSLD: he wants to give back to the humanitarian organization and to Quebec society who welcomed and helped him.
George Chabo is 21 years old. This week, he was sitting in a “classroom”, installed in a hotel in Montreal, listening attentively to a lesson given by the Red Cross.
The organization trains future “service assistants”, intended to lend a helping hand to the overworked staff of residences for Quebec seniors. These paid workers will replace Canadian Army soldiers who recently left the CHSLDs. It was the Canadian Red Cross that received the mandate to train up to 900 service assistants, but also other types of employees.
George is a student like many young people his age. But instead of just thinking about having fun this summer, he raised his hand to help vulnerable seniors.
Met during a break from his four-day training, where he learned among other things how to take care of the elderly, the young man explained why he applied to do this job.
“We have experienced difficult situations in our country, in Syria. We know what crises are. We understand. We have empathy. “
But it is mainly to help the elderly, he said in applied French. “It is a difficult moment for us, but especially for them,” sums up the young man with a soft voice and laughing eyes.
He says he is convinced that his work will be a great experience.
“The elderly have a great life experience. They have a lot to talk about, ”said George, who says he already has some comfort in this because his family takes care of his paternal grandparents. “It’s enriching to help them. “
Grateful to the Red Cross
But also, he has not forgotten what the Red Cross did for him and his family.
He knows the organization and its mission, which is present in Syria, its country of origin, torn apart by war since 2011. It is also the Red Cross which helped his family in Lebanon to carry out the medical examinations necessary for their arrival in Canada.
And above all, on this day in February 2016, when he was only 17 years old, representatives of the organization were at the Montreal airport, to welcome him with warm clothes, and help them carry out certain procedures of the immigration process.
The family – his parents, sister and brother – were also fortunate to be sponsored by Quebecers.
When George heard about the Red Cross recruiting campaign, he jumped at the chance. He was not looking for a job because he was already working.
He says he also wants to give back to Quebec.
“As an exchange, I think it’s a good idea to help the community like that. I want to give back to society for its warm welcome. “
It was not the first time that George got involved: he volunteered for the festivities for the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, an event he described as “exceptional” and “grand”.
On Tuesday, he said he was not worried about contracting COVID-19 while working in a CHSLD, where the virus hit the hardest.
The situation is not as bad as it was in the spring, he said. And then he says he is confident that the “enormously strict” measures put in place by the Canadian Red Cross will be effective.
The first cohort formed by the Red Cross, about 150 people, must begin to be deployed on Monday in various seniors’ residences.