Afghan refugees embrace life in Canada with jobs, English classes and radio showsJanuary 4, 2023
Abdul Qayum Hemat, who as soon as labored as a driver for Canada’s embassy in Kabul, has settled into his new life in Toronto and jokes that working for Uber now, he is aware of the town higher than the locals.
Lots has modified for his household prior to now yr. Mr. Hemat first reached out to The Globe and Mail in July, 2021, terrified that Canada would depart him and a bunch of drivers behind because the Taliban swept throughout Afghanistan. A month later, he and his household had been delivered to Toronto. Now he’s dwelling in an condominium complicated with different Afghans who labored for Canada’s embassy as his neighbours, his children are comfortable in class, and he and his spouse lately welcomed a child boy.
“Everyone seems to be doing nicely,” he mentioned in a cellphone interview. “It’s the most effective nation and the most effective tradition as a result of each faith, each tradition, has its freedom right here in Canada.”
It’s been virtually a yr and a half because the federal authorities introduced its particular immigration measures for Afghans who labored for Canada and an accompanying humanitarian resettlement program for different Afghans weak to Taliban persecution. Ottawa promised to usher in not less than 40,000 Afghans. Thus far, 27,215 have arrived. Some who’ve made it safely to Canada spoke to The Globe about how comfortable they’re to be right here.
Mr. Hemat mentioned the help he’s acquired as a government-sponsored refugee helped his household alter throughout their first yr.
Throughout that point, he’s been busy. Firstly, he navigated the problem of discovering a spot to dwell and furnishings for the brand new residence. He labored at a COVID-19 vaccination centre serving to with lineups within the bitter chilly. And he labored for lodges, offering valet service and as a receptionist. However being an Uber driver permits the pliability he wants for college drop off and choose up together with his two younger children. It’s additionally helped him get to know his new residence.
“Uber is the most effective factor right here for newcomers since you get to know issues and folks, totally different cultures, totally different areas … the whole lot.” He mentioned, laughing, “Now I believe I do know greater than Canadians right here as a result of in all places I can go, and I can discover it with out utilizing map.”
Initially, his spouse and kids had been a bit nervous not understanding English. His four-year-old boy, who’s in kindergarten, and six-year-old daughter, who’s in Grade 1, had been shy about going to high school, notably his daughter. “She was not going, she was crying on a regular basis,” he mentioned. However after practising English, she wished to go, and now she doesn’t miss a day.
“She’s so comfortable going to high school and that’s why she’s serving to her mother as nicely.” His little boy additionally practises his language expertise, so he could make buddies, he mentioned.
However as life carries on in Toronto, he nonetheless worries about his household in Afghanistan and desires Ottawa to increase its immigration program so extra Afghans with ties to Canada could make it right here.
“Their future is basically darkish,” he mentioned of his kin. In the meantime, he added, “Canada additionally wants folks. It’s a really massive nation. It’s an ideal nation. … So they need to assist the folks in Afghanistan as a result of they’re in a really unhealthy state of affairs.”
In Saskatoon, Maryam Masoomi has additionally established a brand new life. She arrived final October and remembers how shocked she was by the variety.
“The factor that I actually discover so good is the multiculturalism in Canada, as a result of we’re Muslim and we’re sporting hijabs,” she mentioned, “I see many different Muslim folks right here they usually put on hijabs, too, they usually had the identical tradition like us and I really feel so good.”
“I used to be so shocked and felt so comfortable, and I belong,” she mentioned.
Ms. Masoomi escaped to Pakistan final September as a part of a bunch that had visas organized by the charity Prince’s Belief Canada. They had been primarily members of the Hazara minority and included college students who went to Kabul’s Marefat Excessive Faculty, which champions girls’s rights and democratic values. Ms. Masoomi, who had attended the varsity, was one of many first to cross into Pakistan and later helped others who adopted behind.
When she first arrived in Saskatoon, she labored at Tim Hortons. It was a problem, she mentioned, as a result of there are such a lot of forms of espresso. “Again residence, we simply used inexperienced tea and black tea.” She additionally needed to rapidly familiarize herself with the foreign money.
Now, she is as an affiliate producer for CBC Radio. And he or she works half time as a youth program facilitator on the Saskatoon Open Door Society, a refugee and immigrant welcoming centre. She additionally has her personal radio present on Saturday mornings known as Kabul Jan – which suggests Expensive Kabul – on which she performs music from residence.
Ms. Masoomi additionally helps run a musical group, Sound of Afghanistan, which performs at festivals.
“Our objective is to carry out in Toronto, in Ottawa, in B.C., in many alternative cities in Canada. And after Canada, our objective is to carry out in numerous nations,” she mentioned.
An emotional efficiency up to now was Canada Day in Saskatoon, she mentioned, including that buddies, households and members of the group had been in tears. “They had been crying as a result of they had been so emotional,” she mentioned. “It was an enormous day for us.”
She mentioned since arriving, the entire high-school-aged women in her group who left Afghanistan collectively have gained new expertise they couldn’t have developed again residence, akin to skateboarding, swimming and ice skating. “Once I see them, they’re so enthusiastic about the whole lot. They’ve a lot power.”
Again in Toronto, Zaher Noori spoke to The Globe from his new residence. Mr. Noori was a journalist in Afghanistan and arrived in Canada this previous November. Journalists for Human Rights helped him and his household escape to Pakistan and supported them whereas they had been there for 13 months.
Now, Mr. Noori, his spouse and three youngsters, who’re 12, 10 and 4, are supported by a non-public sponsorship group for the following yr. “We’re comfortable, particularly my youngsters. They’re very comfortable. It’s a heat residence,” he mentioned.
Mr. Noori mentioned this yr he’ll concentrate on studying English and discovering a job. Two of his youngsters are already going to high school, and he and his spouse are finding out English. He’s hoping to seek out work as a journalist, or in Wushu, a kind of martial artwork. Mr. Noori is a global referee and coach in Wushu.
Nonetheless, he worries about his household in Afghanistan. “I’m anxious about them they usually’re anxious about me.”