Education has been a lifelong pursuit for Farkhonda Tahery, long before the Afghan refugee arrived in Saskatoon nearly three months ago.
As a child, she loved to read, watch movies, and paint. Growing up in Kabul, she first aspired to be a doctor like her father, but came across philosophy and sociology in her later school years. It put her on her way to work at a research company in Afghanistan.
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“By our definition, life was very normal,” Tahery said in an interview.
He grew up in a time when the Taliban had been largely forced into hiding. Their fundamentalist beliefs, which prevent girls from receiving an education, were also suppressed.
Tahery attended college and earned a bachelor’s degree.
Life began to change in April, according to Tahery, when US President Joe Biden announced plans to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan.
“We saw the first red flags after that because some districts started to fall under the Taliban,” Tahery said.
While living in Kabul, she and her husband saw media reports of the fall of one provincial capital after another. On August 15, the Taliban had taken control of Kabul.
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“The city changed overnight,” Tahery said. “We lost our home to people we never wanted to have our homes.”
His plan to leave through the Kabul airport was interrupted on August 26, when a suicide bomber launched an attack on an airport gate. Several dozen were killed just before Tahery and her husband left the country.
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Instead, they traveled to another province, then to Mexico, and finally to Saskatoon. She still has a family in Afghanistan, where Tahery said people don’t feel safe and are dealing with a depressed economy.
“The worst part is that girls are not allowed to go to school. I have very close relatives who just stay home because they can’t go to school, ”Tahery said.
Tahery is now among the many people supported by Global Gathering Place (GGP), a resettlement agency in the city.
Since arriving, Tahery has taken adult swimming lessons through the organization and participated in winter preparation sessions. She is eager for outdoor activities like skiing.
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The resettlement agency connects newcomers with health care services and life skills training. The case management program helps people overcome barriers such as language, illness, and disability.
GGP has launched a online fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $ 5,000 by the end of the year. Tahery’s story is featured to further the effort that raises money for unforeseen circumstances that the organization hasn’t budgeted for: things like transportation, drug costs, and groceries.
The fundraising campaign arises in large part as a result of the pandemic. The influx of Afghan refugees has also had an impact, according to Melanie Baerg, leader of the GGP health and case coordination team.
“It means we have a greater need for funding everywhere, and especially for this type of emergency support that we provide to newcomers,” Baerg said.
When asked what she would like the public to know about Afghan refugees, Tahery said that newcomers are capable of making their communities a better place.
“We are going to be good citizens.”
At least 215 Afghan nationals have arrived in Saskatchewan in recent months, according to federal government data. The figure could be much higher as a result of privately sponsored refugees and others who arrived through Canada’s humanitarian program.
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