Fairuz is a pseudonym. Her name was changed for this story to protect her privacy and her work.
Fairuz, a newly arrived refugee from Afghanistan, lost hope and the life she has built for herself and her family when she was forced to leave her home country. Yet, she quickly found strength not only to rebuild her life, but to also support fellow Afghan activists through her new job at a Canadian organization. Here is her story:
“When I arrived in Canada, I looked outside the window and started crying. For the first time I felt what it is like to be a refugee: you feel so hopeless, lonely, kind of broken.
I’m originally from Herat province in Afghanistan, but I was born in Iran during the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan. My family and I went back when things were a bit more stable in the country.
After finishing my high school in Afghanistan, I received a scholarship and did my undergrad in Economics in India. I also received an International Relation and National Security diploma. I moved back to Afghanistan in 2010 and started working on different project with international organizations to empower women, provide support to Afghans, and fight corruption.
On the morning of August 15th my colleague called me and informed me about the deteriorating situation. She told me to go and pick up my savings from the bank. I was very scared, didn’t know what was happening. I went outside with my husband; it was very much like doomsday. People were running in every direction; didn’t know what was happening or what direction to go to. I could feel the fear among everyone. And when I arrived at the airport, it took me three days to enter and show the security my visa to Canada.
It was hard for me to take that decision. I never wanted to leave my country, my home, my family. And all the work that I have been doing for the past 11 years to support my people and my country. I was pushed to leave… I had no choice.
When I arrived at a safe place [Canada], I had the feeling that I would have to start everything from scratch. It was difficult to find a home and a job. Landlords asked if I had a job, and employers asked for Canadian experience. It was very disappointing. I spent the first month crying in bed. After that I picked myself up and decided to do something. I told myself: I’m young and strong, I won’t allow the situation to make me feel weak and hopeless.
Shortly after I received employment support from Jumpstart Refugee Talent, I got a job at an organization in Canada that supports Afghan activists, something I’m very passionate about.
You need to trust refugees and give them a chance to prove themselves – to show their ability to work and serve their new country.”
For more information about Jumpstart’s Refugee Talent Hub Program, visit https://jumpstartrefugee.ca/programs/talent/