Hand Up Inspires Refugee’s Hope for Future

Arafat Rahman

After fleeing Afghanistan as refugees in 2021 and landing in Toronto, one of the few things Mohammad Qaseem Anwari and his family possessed was hope for the future.

Carrying not very many assets to Canada, Anwari, his better half and four kids, were one of the numerous outcasts housed in lodgings close to the air terminal who profited from gifts of apparel and family things.

He met Toronto Police Constables Mustafa Popalzai and Farzhad Ghotbi a few days after they arrived. They started Project Hope to collect donations for refugees with the help of other police officers, local businesses, and community partners. Since then, they have acquired goods worth more than $500,000.

Popalzai, who once fled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan with his family in the summer of 2001, recalled, “We first met him at the hotel and provided him with some donations.” After spending the first night in his North York apartment, he messaged us later to tell us that he and his children couldn’t sleep because they didn’t have any warm clothing, pillows, or blankets. They wore jackets to bed because of the extremely cold weather.

Soon after, Popalzai and Ghotbi delivered blankets, pillows, household goods, and a bed to the house.

The officials’ liberality left Anwari awestruck.

He said, “They were so kind and generous.” They made us feel very welcome.

He visited Canadian Tire after the officers gave him gift cards, and he was inspired to apply for a store near his home, where he has worked ever since.

Anwari worked as an interpreter for the Canadian military in Afghanistan for almost six years before moving to Canada. As part of their duties, the military provided Afghan police officers with training.

With some foundation in policing, and Ghotbi urged him to apply to Toronto Police Administration.

Anwari, who aspires to become a Special Constable, stated, “I am impressed by the way police officers do their work and want to be part of their organization.” Special Constables work in uniform roles providing court security, booking prisoners, and other support functions to police operations.

Constable Ghotbi, who was also a refugee from Iran who came to Canada, stated that Anwari is precisely the person they were attempting to assist when they began collecting supplies for refugees.

“His story is a phenomenal one of trust and difficult work and how both joined can make dreams materialize,” said Ghotbi.

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