Wheelchair stolen from Sudanese refugee family who recently arrived in Calgary

Nahid Khidir and her mother Amal Zayd plead for the return of a wheelchair that gives Zayd independence. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

A difficult four-year journey for Amal Zayd and her three children to come to Calgary from Sudan has hit a new hurdle.

On the morning of December 21, the electric wheelchair Amal depended on to leave the house was stolen from the porch of the family’s home on Marlborough Drive.

The family fled war in Sudan in 2019 and lived in as refugees in Egypt for three years. They came to Canada this year as government-assisted refugees, living for a few months in New Brunswick and just two months ago settling in Calgary.

Because of a spinal infection, Zayd is not able to walk. She received an electric wheelchair with the help of the YMCA in New Brunswick.

“They worked really hard to get her that wheelchair in place before she moved out here to Calgary.  The team out there did a fantastic job of securing that for her,” said Ben Patmore with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.

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“I couldn’t believe in Canada that people would do this,” said Zayd’s 20-year-old daughter Nahid Khidir after the chair was stolen.

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Replacing the wheelchair will cost over $5,000.

“The resources we provide here are quite limited because of the long waitlist we have for folks with disabilities in the community. There are resources we can access but it’s going to take a really long time to get her another electric wheelchair,” Patmore said.

Patmore said newcomers with disabilities face many barriers.

“They face a lot more isolation in the community and access to resources is quite strained already with our current system,” Patmore said.

The loss of the wheelchair is an added burden for the family who worry about friends in family back in Sudan. The family is from Nyala, the capital of the state of South Darfur in the south-west of Sudan.

War between the two sides erupted in April this year following a disagreement over an internationally backed political transition plan. The conflict has displaced more than seven million people, left Khartoum in ruins, caused a humanitarian crisis and triggered ethnically driven killings in Darfur.

Since the current conflict started in April, one a a half million people have fled the country.

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Nahid Khidir and her teenage siblings are caring for their mother. She helps support the family at a job cleaning schools.

Zayd, who is a business school graduate from Khartum hopes to one day work in Calgary too, but her first dream is just to get her independence back.

“She says she hopes to get the wheelchair. She says the wheelchair is a dream for her,” said Khidir who helped translate for her mother.

According to the United Nations, the conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) continues to have devastating consequences for millions of civilians in Sudan, with 28 million people estimated to require humanitarian assistance by December 2024.

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