A former Syrian refugee is trying to pay it forward in a big way.
Hassan Al Kontar received international attention after he spent seven months stranded in an airport in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
His story was compared to the 2004 film The Terminal, in which Tom Hanks portrayed a man from a fictional eastern European country who was trapped in an airport without a country.
Al Kontar finally left Malaysia in November 2018 after a Canadian charity helped him relocate to B.C.
Now he hopes to help up to 250 refugees relocate from two islands in the South Pacific to Canada.
“Eight-hundred-fifty souls, including 24 women, are suffering since six years without a proper trial,” Al Kontar said.
“They are desperate.”
They are asylum seekers on Manus Island in northern Papua New Guinea, and the island nation of Nauru. They were forced there, says the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the Australian government.
Al Kontar is working with the charity that helped him escape, along with immigration settlement agency MOSAIC, to privately sponsor up to 250 refugees.
WATCH: (April 27, 2018) B.C. group tries to free trapped Syrian refugee
“We are hoping to raise $3.3 million and hopefully more to be able to resettle refugees,” MOSAIC’s Saleem Spindari said.
While there is no guarantee the applications will be approved, Al Kontar is nothing but hopeful.
“There is a hero inside each one of us,” he said. “We just need to find it.”