I came to Canada because I feared the Taliban and other extremist Muslims. This is my family's story of how we came to Canada and the period of time we were homeless.
I am a thirty three year old single mother of four boys, ranging in age from four to thirteen. I am a refugee claimant from Afghanistan. I came to Canada because I feared the Taliban and other extremist Muslims. This is my family's story of how we came to Canada and the period of time we were homeless.
I have a bachelor's degree in Education and after I graduated I was able to obtain employment as a teacher. However, in 1997, after the Taliban took power, I was not allowed to teach anymore. After the Taliban were ousted in 2002, I went to a girl's school looking for a job. On my way home, a man I believe was Taliban, stopped me on the street. He tied my hands together and whipped them, threatening that they would not tolerate me working for the government. I went to the police but they told me that they could not do anything. I had to seek medical attention for these wounds and I have permanent nerve damage. I was afraid to teach as they were burning girl's schools during this time. When I went out I had to walk behind my husband.
We were well off in my home country. We owned land, had a few houses and an automotive business. We had about thirty employees that worked for us in the fields as well. My husband received a letter from the Taliban that was slipped underneath our home's door. They were demanding $300,000 U.S. We sold our business and property quickly so we only got $160,000. We could not pay the rest so we moved quickly. My husband went to find a new job in our new town but he never came back. We contacted police but again they said they could not help and warned us that we were not safe. I tried for many months to find my husband until finally my children were now threatened and I removed them from school.
We were now hiding in fear, and we made the decision to leave Afghanistan. With family help, we paid a man $56,000 U.S to smuggle us to Canada. We arrived in Toronto in December of 2006 and took a taxi to London where we spoke with local police and were told of a homeless shelter for families. My mother lived in London and offered some supports but her place was too small and she did not have the funds to help us so we stayed at the shelter for a few months. We received help from our caseworker at the shelter. She helped us to look for a place to live.
When we moved we became involved in a program called Hostel to Homes and we have a community support worker and an Ontario Works caseworker that provide ongoing support. We are still living in this unit but are looking for somewhere else to move to due to the many social problems in our complex. My children experience discrimination, they have been beaten, our home was robbed, we have watched neighbours get shot or stabbed and the police presence in our complex triggers old memories. We hope soon to find a place to live as we are once again hiding in fear. We know that our supports are trying to help but the process is slow and the money is not enough.