My name is A.A.

I was born and raised in Kabul, the beautiful capital of an ancient land locked country, Afghanistan.

For as far as I can remember, Afghanistan has been fighting off invaders and trying to maintain independence and peace. After decades of war and USSR invasion and to pursue those civil wars in the country during the Presidency of Hamid Karzai, we were given an opportunity to get quality education once again.

My background

As a young man I enjoyed physical activities such as swimming, badminton, hunting, fishing, volley ball, and body building. I didn’t know that these hobbies would build in me physical and mental strength to endure what was to come.

I was an A student all through my university years, and because of my interest and good grades my parents and everyone around me wanted me to study medicine, but I wanted to help the Afghans in my own way.

I wanted to study criminal law and understand Human Rights and help my people get back to their historic glory and reach their full potential. I wanted to work in Foreign Affairs to help the world see Afghanistan as it truly was.
American International School (AIS) in Kabul

When I completed High School, I went to study Law and Political science in university, and then went on to get a master’s in Criminal law and Criminology.

Supporting the Human Rights of the Afghans

Way before completing my masters, I started working for different organizations supporting the Human Rights of the Afghans.

I worked as Human Rights Field Monitoring team leader, then moved on to the position of Monitoring and Investigating assistant and Officer, and later I became part of Monitoring & Evaluation Unit of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), before shifting to a Child Rights Protection Officer. Soon, I was promoted to Project Manager for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law training programs. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRI) was a national constitutional organization, but its donors were from different countries, including Canada.

Making Plans to Leave

During my service with the AIHRC, the chairperson of the organization went to the US with the president of Afghanistan for a meeting and on her return, she encouraged all staff working in the organization to apply for immigration to either the US, Canada, Germany, or any other country where we may have family or friends.

She told to HR to give all the staff the IRCC email addresses. I chose to apply for immigration to Canada for myself, my wife, our four children, my mother, and my younger brother. The application was among the first to be accepted by IRCC and the immigration process began.

Growing Unrest with the Taliban

In the meantime, the Taliban once again started gaining control of Afghanistan.

In 2021, when they overtook Kabul, our organization was among the first to be forcefully shut down.

All staff went into hiding and I received a written threat to my life. My family and I went into hiding, leaving our home and staying with family and friends in different cities. This went on for months. Taliban presence was everywhere.

Although the Taliban had announced a general amnesty, some reports indicated covert assassinations. And it could even be heard that the Taliban were using biometric devices to identify individuals.

During those months in hiding, we were living on money that was sent by my uncle who lived in Germany. I had to stay off the streets often. My family members would go and shop for food and necessities of life.

Getting to the Gates

On August 15th, 2021, I received confirmation from IRCC to leave Afghanistan for Canada.

I, along with my wife, children, brother and my mother went to Kabul airport but we couldn’t reach the gates. With thousands of people trying to leave the country, we couldn’t even get close to the gates. We decided to come back the next day and returned to where we were hiding.

We received instructions from IRCC to get to the airport from the East Gate by way of the Baran Hotel.

The east side of the airport was surrounded by a big moat that worked as security line between the airport and the city, this side was not used for entry to the airport during any time and anyone wanting to get to the airport from this part of the city would have to go through the moat that was filled with muddy, dirty water.

Across this moat were stationed soldiers from different Nations such as Germany, US, England, and Canada. People who were able to cross the moat were then checked in by the soldiers of the country they either belonged to or wanted to go to; those who had the correct documents were accepted and the gate was opened for them to get into the airport. For those who didn’t have the correct travel documents, it was a wasted journey. They would be turned back, through the moat, to go back to where they had come from.

My family and I tried two more times to get to the gate by way of the moat, the second time, we could not find the Canadian soldiers, and the third time, my son slipped and fell in the moat. I pulled him out just in time, but we couldn’t make it to the gates on time again. My son is traumatized by the whole event and still has a fear of airports.

The next day, we decided that I would go by myself, and if I make it inside the gates I would call the rest of the family to join me. With this intent I headed to the East side of Kabul airport. When I reached there, I received an email from IRCC asking us to leave the area immediately as there was a threat of an attack from ISIS:  ISIS had found out that the East side was being used for rescuing the people and they planned an attack.

I ran to the safety of the place we were living and later heard that hundreds of innocent children and soldiers had died in those bomb blasts. It was a sad sight and one of the saddest days of my life. The memory of that horrific day brings me unbearable pain and tears.

After this incident, in August 2021, the rescue was stopped for a few months. We had to stay in hiding while waiting to get instructions from IRCC.

Finally in December 2021, we received an email from IRCC asking us to leave and go to Islamabad, Pakistan. We needed to get visas to land in Pakistan, and had to pay 20 times the regular fee in US Dollars to get tickets for a family of 8 people. After 4 months in hiding we went, once again, to Kabul airport on Dec 13th, 2021, and left for Pakistan. We stayed in Pakistan for a month and on January 18th, 2022, we left to come to Canada.

Shah Do-Shamshira Mosque Kabul

Present Day

My journey in life may have been that of constant struggle but I am happy where I am at now. I am doing what I always wanted to do, serving the Afghans and all those newcomers who have faced similar circumstances as me and have arrived in Canada looking to find peace and success.

I work as Newcomer Afghan Settlement Worker and support the Temporary Foreign Workers at South Vancouver Neighborhood House. I am hopeful that the love and pride which I carry in my heart for my people will give me direction and the painful memories of our struggle will help me stay grounded and ever ready to support those in need.
Man in a vegetable stall in Afghanistan


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