Sunday, March 3, 2024

Household to settle in B.C. after greater than two years of hazard

Arrival of household a fruits of two years fraught with homicide, peril, bribes, secret networks, shut escapes and mind-numbing purple tape.

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Michelle Downey recollects the day she started worrying about households in Afghanistan.

“I keep in mind it clearly, it was the day of the Taliban takeover and I used to be overwhelmed by the misery of the individuals attempting to get on the airplanes,” Downey mentioned. “I simply thought, ‘How can I assist?’”

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Downey is the lead on a workforce of 12 from Campbell River who on Saturday will welcome seven of 10 relations after they arrive at Comox’s airport — with three extra the workforce is hopeful will arrive earlier than the New 12 months.

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It’s the fruits of greater than two years fraught with homicide, peril, bribes, secret networks, shut escapes and mind-numbing purple tape. It felt at instances like residing in an Ian Fleming novel.

“The Taliban have been simply reckless, they have been killing and it didn’t matter who they killed,” Downey remembers considering.

On Aug. 15, 2021, the Taliban took management of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Afghans who had labored with Canadian and different worldwide organizations have been particularly focused.

Downey has a pal in Edmonton, Spencer Sekyer, who had taught in Afghanistan and he informed her in regards to the household that can arrive on Saturday.

The household patriarch, Ghulam Ahmadi, had been murdered by the Taliban in Might, 2022, for refusing to surrender his 16-year-old daughter for marriage. That left his son, Gul Ahmadi, as protector of his youthful brother and sister, his mom, his spouse and their 5 younger women.

After the Taliban returned to let the Ahmadis know they now anticipated not simply the teenaged woman however the household’s residence as properly, the Ahmadis fled, hiding the place they might in Afghanistan earlier than fleeing to Pakistan alongside harmful, clandestine routes.

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Gul would later wind up being shot, too, two bullets to the stomach in June, 2022, when he sneaked again into Afghanistan to attend a household funeral in Kandahar. Nobody would deal with him on the first hospital — docs feared for their very own security in opposition to Taliban retribution — and he’d been bleeding for greater than 5 hours earlier than a physician at one other hospital tended to his wounds.

Gul didn’t have a lot time for restoration. A nurse on the hospital had ties to the Taliban and he escaped only some hours earlier than the Taliban arrived in search of him.

Afghans collect on a roadside close to the navy a part of the airport in Kabul on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the nation after the Taliban’s navy takeover of Afghanistan. Picture by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP /Getty Photos

The Campbell River workforce wound up elevating $90,000 by way of storage gross sales and different fundraisers, plus assist from two Rotary Golf equipment, and jumped by way of sundry hoops required to sponsor the ten Afghans, for whom the workforce is liable for one 12 months taking care of their wants.

Lately, the neighborhood chipped in to furnish a four-bedroom home the workforce was in a position to hire for the Ahmadis in Campbell River and it was with a lot aid and emotion that Downey informed the story.

“That is the primary time we’ve been in a position to point out their names or have their footage seem,” she mentioned.

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The workforce Downey leads is non-denominational however she has sturdy Christian roots and commenced serving to refugees six years in the past.

“It was completely different,” she mentioned. “It was Africa, for one, however this actually is the toughest factor I’ve ever needed to undergo so far as making choices that had individuals’s lives at stake.

“It was quite a lot of turmoil, nearly each day.”

Even in Pakistan, the household felt unsafe.

“Gul has averted loss of life I don’t know what number of instances,” Downey mentioned. “A number of days in the past he was strolling down the road in Islamabad getting suitcases to return to Canada and he watched an Afghan man get killed within the store the place he usually will get his paperwork printed.

“So I’m grateful that they’re on an airplane.”

Gul and his spouse Farida are 32. They communicate Pashto, not English; they’re Muslims arriving simply in time for Christmas.

Downey, a 56-year-old mom of 4, sees the Ahmadis’ harmful journey as a narrative of hope and peace, of coming collectively in a world the place intolerance appears to be ballooning.

“I really feel like we have been in a James Bond film the previous two years,” she mentioned. “We’re a bit giddy — this type of ultimate realization that that is panning out.

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“Issues are grim internationally, there are some actually ugly issues on the market. For me, this household has proven me again and again their humility, they’re very type and loving to one another. Gul is respectful to his mom and his spouse and his sisters.

“And he’s bought 5 little women to point out that there’s a unique life for them.

“We are able to love one another regardless for the proper causes, proper? It’s not about faith, it’s not about race or tradition, it’s about doing the proper factor. I believe that’s the important thing — that’s why it’s a excellent news story as a result of it’s not about race or faith, it’s about caring about different individuals.”

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