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This is guest blogger Sandyha Singh's response to “Breaking Cycles through Education: Stories from Determined Refugee Women”. The presenters were: Lynne LeBlanc (Moderator), World University Service of Canada, Canada; Vicky Samuel, Canada; Fatima Bahir, Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Sarah Angus, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Fatima Bahir gets choked up when describes how her entire life, in particular, her education was interrupted when war broke out in Afghanistan in 1979. With schools no longer functioning, her parents resorted to teaching her and her two sisters at home. She resumed her formal education in Pakistan, but it differed greatly in its philosophical approach. Her parents had taught her that in Islam, questioning, inquiry, and reflection were essential. Not so in the Pakistani education she and her sisters received. Fatima was eventually able to learn English at night school, and this became her ticket out. She was accepted into the WUSC Refugee Sponsorship Program, graduated from the University of Brandon, and now works for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
“I make presentations all the time, as my job requires me to teach, but when I have to speak about my past, I become emotional. I didn’t expect this,” Fatima says.
Unexpected maybe, but not suprising. The scars are deep, and education by itself cannot heal the trauma of a life, interrupted.