A former refugee living in Winnipeg understands the trauma and endless waiting so many endure in refugee camps, sometimes up to 20 years, which is why he has the heart to help others. 

"I was a refugee myself," says Omar Rahimi. "My family is Kurdish and I was a refugee in Iraq for about 20 years. I came here and now I'm trying to save more people from our camp."

Rahimi is working alongside Portage Avenue Church through MCC and a program called 'Hire a Refugee' to bring some more families from the Middle East to Winnipeg. 

"We have some friends and family members still left behind so we're trying to help them come over to Winnipeg."

Rahimi recalls being a refugee and what it was like for him and his wife. 

"We are originally Kurdish from Iran and we lived in Iraq. We have a saying in Kurdish, that waiting is not very good, like waiting is the hardest thing to do. It's tough. People live in a place where there's no water, no electricity, no safety and there's shooting, killing, trauma and stress. Then you live there for many, many years you feel like you're stuck. There's no way out."

He shares that Kurdish people especially get attacked from all sides. Kurdish people are an Iranian ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan in Western Asia.

"That's why we try to find ways to help our people. Whether it's encouraging them to go through the church and find peace. Finding a way to forgive, because of trauma. It's very tough."

Rahimi shares that his dad and wife were both shot and survived, and his sister is currently healing from psychological trauma. 

"I found Portage Avenue Church and went there every Sunday. It really helped me because I was an angry man. I felt like 'Why did this happen to me?' But I found peace there and I'm a different man. I don't want to take revenge on anybody. It's very helpful to go to the church."

Helping Others

Rahimi is now working to help others come to Winnipeg and continues helping them after they're here. He works with 'Hire a Refugee' to get immigrants jobs and help the economy. 

"We have put a lot of people to work. We need more people to come because there's a lot of shortage. There's a lot of people working online now, so there's a lot of openings on hard jobs like foundation digging, cleaning, all that physical work."

The biggest thing they need right now, according to Rahimi, is funds to help people make the trip. Any donations can be made to the MCC refugee program or to Portage Avenue Church

"We help because we were once refugees too. If they come to Jesus, they find peace and that's the way we want to go about it."