“That is our second residence”: Afghan household fleeing the Taliban reunites in Edmonton
It has been more than a decade since Beazhan Hussaini last saw his sister.
But after several challenging months trying to leave his native Afghanistan – a journey that saw him and his family leave the country, cross Pakistan, and have a child along the way – Beazhan and his sister were finally reunited , this time in Canada.
“I’m very excited,” Hussaini told CTV National News before meeting his sister Nafesa in Edmonton. “You know, after 11 years we’re seeing her, and not just me, the whole family, and we’re all excited.”
Ten members of the Hussaini family recently reunited with Nafesa in Alberta’s capital. Before that, Nafesa had no idea that her brothers, sisters-in-law, mother, nieces, and nephews had made it to Canada.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” she said. “It’s still, I can’t believe you’re here, you’re in front of me.”
With a relieved sigh and a smile on her face, Nafesa added, “I have no idea what to say.”
Hussaini was only working in his office job in Kabul last summer, a day he describes as ordinary when the Taliban arrived in the Afghan capital after US troops had withdrawn from the country, ending the US’s 20-year war there .
When he learned that the Taliban were close to Kabul, Beazhan said everyone in his office was shocked.
“It was like literally a few seconds, everything collapsed,” he said.
He says he saw Taliban vehicles with their white flags on the street and wondered how he could get home safely.
Beazhan and his family tried to get to Kabul Airport twice, as did thousands of others.
“My mother was about to die, to be honest. She couldn’t enter the airport. It was a crowd, ”he said.
“… Then we come home with no hope, to be honest, because everything was blocked, you know, and Kabul cried to be honest.”
Beazhan’s wife Basira told CTV National News on Farsi that her daughter’s school had been closed and women’s rights revoked.
Because of Beazhan’s high-profile human development work with a Canadian NGO and the Canadian government, Basira says, he may have been targeted. The family knew they had to get out.
After hearing the story of the Hussaini family, the Canadian Veterans Transition Network decided to help.
“We are committed to attracting people with meaningful lasting relationships with the Canadian government,” said Tim Laidler, chairman of the board of directors, Veterans Transition Network.
“We tried primarily to help interpreters and their families, but we met quite a number of people like Beazhan who worked for Canadian NGOs and had the same relationship with the Canadian government.”
The Veterans Transition Network says around 9,000 people from Afghanistan have the documents to enter Canada, but the organization needs more donations to help them do so.
On November 5, Kabul security houses, which provided refuge for more than 1,700 Afghan interpreters, cooks, guards and their families, were closed for lack of money. Veterans groups had previously raised about $ 2 million in private donations but said they would need an additional $ 5 million to keep the safe houses open.
Lawyers have urged the federal government to expedite the filings of these families to come to Canada.
The Hussaini eventually made it to Pakistan by car. Shortly after their arrival, Beazhan’s sister-in-law gave birth to a girl.
“Our family was nine, now we are ten,” he said.
After a short stay in Pakistan, the now 10 members of the Hussaini family made it safely to Canada.
The family has already been offered work and accommodation. Meanwhile, Beazhan plans to volunteer with a group at the University of British Columbia that provides mental health care to Afghan refugees.
“Even I think I dream,” he said as he paid tribute to the Veterans Transition Network and the Government of Canada.
“We are great migrants and we will remain great to this country. This is our second home and you will see that we will do a lot of good things to build this country up in the years to come. “