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Former Syrian refugee in Calgary giving back through soap fundraiser

By Caroline Wagner, Communications Advisor, Alberta
A former Syrian refugee in Canada is fighting COVID-19 the best way he knows how - with an ancient family soap recipe.
 
Pile of soap pictured in Aleppo Soap fundraiser for Canadian Red CrossAbdulfatah Sabouni of Calgary’s Aleppo Savon is donating 25 per cent of the proceeds of his new neem-oil soap to the Red Cross’ Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Global Appeal fund.
 
“I’m really happy to work with the Red Cross,” says Abdulfatah. “I think people also are very excited to support Red Cross.”
 
Abdulfatah is a fourth-generation soap maker. He and his family were forced to flee Syria during the civil war, leaving behind a factory in Aleppo. They came to Canada in 2016 as refugees.
 
With him, Abdulfatah brought the family recipe for making Aleppo’s famous laurel-oil soap. In 2018, he launched his business, hand mixing the soap in his southeast Calgary factory.
 
Aleppo Savon storefrontBusiness was going well for the first two years. The company opened a second store in Calgary, then another in the West Edmonton Mall. Now, you can buy Aleppo Savon soap in the Natural Choice section of 21 Calgary Co-op grocery stores.
 
But when the pandemic began, everything ground to a halt. With storefronts closed, sales flagged.
 
That’s when Afif Tabish of Creative Cycle, who represents Aleppo Savon, decided to launch a fundraiser featuring a new soap made with the oil of the neem tree, long valued for its medicinal properties.
 
“With the whole COVID situation, one of the key recommendations was washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds,” says Afif.
 
“With the whole COVID situation, one of the key recommendations was washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds,” says Afif.
 
“We didn’t want to bluntly say in an ad, ‘Buy our soap’. I thought, why not do something and make a difference at the same time? You know, raise some funds and support the people who are actually on the ground.”
 
It didn’t take long for Afif to come up with the Canadian Red Cross as a partner. For the past couple years, he’s been lending his skills to the Red Cross as a volunteer with the Digital team, creating and sharing content, in addition to monitoring Red Cross social media platforms.
 
Afif quickly got in touch with the Red Cross with his idea, and the campaign launched in late March.
 
So far, Aleppo Savon has raised more than $1500 for the Canadian Red Cross.
 
Aleppo Savon’s neem-oil soap is available for a limited time on the company’s website.

 
 
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