Bina’s parents gave her the ultimate gift—a chance to begin a new life across the world.
Bina’s parents adored their sweet, bright-eyed daughter. She was the only light in their lives. When her life was threatened, they risked everything to save her.
Bina loves attending our onsite school and is learning English rapidly. She is getting ready for her first Canadian winter. It has been only a few months since she arrived at our doors on her seventeenth birthday. She has journeyed a very long way.
Bina’s story begins in war-torn Afghanistan, where misery and desperation reveal human nature at its most extreme. Heroism and sacrifice reside alongside horrific cruelty.
Bina’s twin brothers were bystanders in an attack and were killed. As a girl, she was not allowed to inherit her father’s land. To keep land rights in the family, the clan told her parents that Bina must marry a much older, already married relative. It would be a terrible life of servitude for her.
Bina’s parents would not accept this fate for their only child. Her mother went to plead her case and she was killed. Bina and her father could not go home again. For her freedom, they had to run. Her father knew he would also be killed if he was caught. But she was all he had left in the world. They packed up their possessions and fled over the Pakistan border to the Peshawar airport.
Bina’s father had brought his life savings—enough money for one international air ticket. He knew Canada gave help to refugees, so he sent her to Toronto. They never saw each other again.
When she first came to us, Bina was frightened, confused and haunted. Her grief was agonizing and she felt utterly alone. She could not speak English and our culture was completely alien to her. She was suicidal, refused to eat and was briefly hospitalized for starvation. Then, staff stopped her as she tried to jump from a window. Her father’s dream for her was almost lost forever.
Her gentleness and fragility drew many staff to feel passionately protective towards her. Her social worker, youth workers, nurses and counsellors ensured that she received intensive therapy and constant support.
Our social worker, Michele, met with Bina regularly. They often ate lunch together at our cafeteria, which provided her food that met her cultural needs. She was eating now and would always give Michele some of the food off of her plate, an Afghani gesture of friendship. One day, Bina surprised Michele with a big hug and told her in her improving English, “You are like my mom now.”
Bina told Michele that she was excited to start attending our onsite school. She had been pulled out of school at a very young age. Eileen, our English teacher, went to the book store to buy an English picture book to work on basic literacy with her. Along with a pink backpack staff purchased for her, the book is Bina’s most prized possession.
Bina participates in most of our programs and loves participating in workshops with our new girls program. She started cooking Afghani food in the school’s kitchenette to share with her classmates and reconnect with home.
We are working to find housing for her in the community. But even after she moves out, we will continue to provide her with additional care and the support she needs.
Bina’s parents’ love knew no limits. They sacrificed their own lives so that she could be free to live a better life. With the help of a community of people who care deeply for her, she is embarking on a future that is uncertain, but entirely her own to explore.