Calgary doctor goes above and beyond for refugee patients
Free rides, Arabic speaking staff and social support are just a few ways Dr. Muhammed makes his patients feel like Canada is home
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When Dr. Talib Muhammed came to Canada he said he didn’t have $5 to get his haircut.
Now, the owner of International Avenue Medical Centre is using his personal experience to help Calgary’s newcomers not only get medical care, but to inspire them to find hope in their circumstances.
“One of the refugees asked me, how can I go back to Syria? He said he felt hopeless,” said Muhammed. “And I reassured him, I said just wait, you will have all of the support you need and things will get better.”
Sam Nammourra, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group (SRSG) said what Muhammed has done is unique.
“He uses his own story to inspire them,” he said. “He understands what they’re going through is using his story to give them hope.”
Muhammed immigrated to Canada from Iraq in the early 2000s as a qualified doctor and spent three years upgrading and taking tests to be able to practice medicine in his new country. Now he offers a full-service clinic and above and beyond social support to newcomers, including volunteers who give them free rides to and from the clinic, Arabic speaking staff and a social support network that meets once a week.
Syrian refugee Naser Batouz came to Calgary two months ago with his young family. He said he never expected the kind of service offered by Muhammed and his clinic.
“I am so comfortable and happy,” he said, through Muhammed’s assistant Reham Aboumorad, a 22-year-old Lebanese immigrant and graduate of ABM College’s medical assistant program.
Elfatih Mousa, who came to Canada years ago as a Sudanese refugee, volunteers to drive newcomer patients to and from their appointments at the clinic.
“When I came to Canada many people helped me, now it’s my turn,” he said.
Mousa said during the refugee crisis in Syria, Sudan opened their arms to Sudanese refugees.
“They could work and they could own land,” he said “The bond between Sudanese and Syrians peoples is strong.”
Muhammed, who understands the culture shock experienced by the refugees, said he welcomed them to his clinic and the city by hosting a community meeting with immigrant business owners and newcomers in his traditionally Arabic meeting space.
“When I arrive here I had the same feeling of isolation they have,” he said. “That is why I provide the dinner for them and invite business owners from the immigrant community to share their stories with them as well.”
He said the hope is to create a support network to help newcomers integrate and find work. Muhammed said he hopes the stories of hard work and success inspire them.
“Nothing is impossible, everything is doable,” he said. “You will find all the help, you don’t need to feel hopeless.”
For more information on how to help newcomers visit : www.yycsyr.ca