A parent’s sacrifice

Bina_thumbBina’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.

10 thoughts on “A parent’s sacrifice

  1. I cannot get out of my head a recent email talking about teenagers being hungry. So true. So hungry. When my nephew was a teen, someone asked him at the end of the meal if he was full. He replied “I’ve never been full.” I am so glad you are there to feed these hungry kids.

  2. I would like to help Bina. Please contact me

    • Covenant House Toronto

      Hi Monika, Thanks so much for your very kind offer. For privacy reasons, we’re unable to connect youth and supporters directly. Our website can give you more info on donating, fundraising, hiring youth or volunteering, or you can speak to someone in Donor Services. Again, warmest thanks for reaching out.

    • okay

  3. I cannot believe what this poor girl and her family have been through. It makes me so grateful to live in Canada, and not somewhere else in the world. Thank you, Covenant House, for being there to give a new life to young people like Bina. I hope Bina and her father manage to reconnect one day.

  4. These stories are heart wrenching…the anguish, torment is utterly unbearable. I will certainly be sending my donation to the Covenant House. Your work in helping these unfortunate young adults is important to both them and society in general.

    thanks again for this update…

  5. I’m so touched by Bina’s story. I have no idea that these are the young people that Covenant House are helping. Keep up the good work.

  6. I am so glad Bina is safe and can count on the Covenant House for supporting her and keeping her on a positive track to a better life in the future. I am an Afghan woman myself and i wish i could reach out to Bina and help her. Her story is so touching, i can sense what she is going through and i give my warmest and sincere wishes to her. Thank you for helping young beautiful women like Bina to strive for a better future. It is truly inspiring!

  7. What a brave family! I pray Binas father can come to Canada one day too so they can be reunited. Thank you Covenant House staff for overcoming all the hurdles and helping Bina get back on her feet

  8. How is Binah doing now? Any updates?

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