The Journey from Syria to Canada and the Canadian Red Cross

By: Shelly Makrugin, senior communications advisor
Photo courtesy: Ghufran Othman

A young woman sitting on a large rock with trees in the background“My life as I was leaving Syria took the path of the unknown. I wasn’t sure what would happen next.”
The course of Ghufran Othman’s life changed dramatically in 2012, just as she was preparing to graduate from Damascus University. The civil war had escalated to a point that her family feared for their safety. Othman and her sister were sent to Jordan, followed by their mother.
Ghufran spent six years in Jordan, waiting to be reunited with her brothers in Canada. During that time, she worked in refugee camps as a humanitarian field associate with the United Nations.
“My experience working at the refugee camps in Jordan was one of the greatest experiences that taught me a lot,” Ghufran explains. “The opportunity to be there with my people (Syrian refugees) and be a part of their daily routine was really rewarding.”
She says when she began her work, she at first became depressed seeing people’s suffering. Feeling as though she couldn’t do anything broke her heart.
“But then I thought to myself, I am here for a reason. If I am not able to help based on their expectations, I can help in another ways. That’s when I started to grow and look at the experience from a different perspective.”
Ghufran and her mother arrived in Canada in 2018.
A young woman in mask and scrubs wearing Red Cross lanyard“Since I was a child, the name of Canada always had a special harmony to my ears. When I knew that I would be settling in Canada, I felt indescribable happiness. It was smooth and easy since I landed in Alberta. I felt that I was finally home,” she recalls.
Ghufran shares that her passion for humanitarian work and experience working with refugees in Jordan is what brought her to the Canadian Red Cross.
“When I was working at the refugee camps with UNICEF, I worked with many different not-for-profit organizations and the Red Cross was one of them,” she notes. “When I came to Canada, I was determined to apply to the Canadian Red Cross and do what it took to be a part of its family.”

Now a Red Cross case management supervisor supporting the B.C. Wildfires 2021 response and recovery operation, Ghufran works remotely from her home in Alberta. She also still volunteers with the emergency response team, because she has seen first hand the huge impact Red Cross and its volunteers have on people who are experiencing an emergency or disaster.

Among her valuable skills and experience, Ghufran also speaks English, Arabic, a bit of Turkish and is now learning French. She plans to continue both working and volunteering with the Red Cross to help people in need while challenging herself to continually grow.

“I feel that if I do the very best I can every day, push myself to the limit, grow personally and professionally, then tomorrow as well as five years from now, will take care of itself.”

Find opportunities to become a Red Cross volunteer and browse current Red Cross job openings.

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