As the plane was descending into Fort McMurray on September 8, 2016, I was struck by the beauty of the city’s landscape and the vegetation, of which there are lots over here. Before travelling to Fort McMurray, I was not sure of what to expect in terms of the outward appearance. I mean, this is a city that had experienced a major wildfire outbreak for a while, in the month of May 2016. Over 80,000 people had to evacuate the city. However, on arrival, I saw that a good chunk of the vegetation here is blooming, though scanty in quantity in some areas. I am in awe.
My nickname for this city is “Hope”.
I am amazed at how much was spared of the city and at how much has bloomed so far, since the devastating fire incident. I am equally bewildered and saddened at how much was lost. People lost houses, cars and jobs because of the fire. Amidst the kindness that I have experienced here, just three days since I arrived, I have seen that there is also devastation, sadness and feelings of uncertainty. This is also why I feel like there is no better place that I would be right now, than in Fort McMurray working with the Canadian Red Cross and most especially, for the people of Fort McMurray.
Working with the Canadian Red Cross has been such an inspiring experience, so far. It is great to be working with an organization whose impact, you can directly see. Humanity is a force in every human being that propels you to do good for yourself and for others. The Canadian Red Cross is helping at a time when many in the city of Fort McMurray are in dire need of empathy, assistance and a patient ear. Empathy always inspires me and I feel grateful to the Creator for the opportunity to work with an organization like the Red Cross, which reminds me that one must continually work in love, for yourself and for others.
Members of the public are also helping and this is one of the major reasons why I see clients go into our Red Cross branch looking sad and then, they come out looking excited and a bit relieved. Donations go a long way. Volunteering also goes a long way. Any form of assistance goes a long way. A smile goes a long way. Words of kindness go a long way. Genuine empathy goes a long way.
Friends, right here in Fort McMurray, I feel hope, I see the push of that thing in us all called “humanity” working in full force, I feel empathy and I genuinely feel that there are much better days coming for this city. I feel a conviction that Fort McMurray is the right place for me at this time. Here in Fort McMurray, I am reminded that we are created for one another – and a society thrives better when there is togetherness.
Do you know someone or people currently in distress? Please reach out to him or her or them. Be available.