This Afghan refugee arrived in Sask. last year. Now he is on a mission to help other newcomers feel at home

Najibulla Sorosh says he still gets startled by sudden loud noises, an experience he says is common for Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban control. He is determined to make others feel home in Saskatchewan. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)
Najibulla Sorosh says he still gets startled by sudden loud noises, an experience he says is common for Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban control. He is determined to make others feel home in Saskatchewan. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC - image credit)

Hardly two hours before the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul was bombed on Aug. 26 last year, Najibulla Sorosh was there with his family.

A month later, he arrived in Saskatchewan. Now he is helping other Afghan refugees resettle.

Sorosh, 47, said he understands their plight.

"They are always scared. Many tried to hide from the Taliban soldiers trying not to be seen outside. It's the main experience for almost everyone," he said.

Last week, a charter flight of 350 Afghan refugees landed in Saskatoon, with 221 staying in Saskatchewan.

Twenty-eight of them are settling in Prince Albert and receiving help from Sorosh, a settlement counselor at the local YWCA.

"My brother and I were the only Afghan families in P.A. (Prince Albert) … but we never felt we were in a foreign country," he said.

"I'm happy it has increased to six with the recent arrivals."

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Back in Afghanistan, Sorosh was the co-founder of two well known high schools, where half of the 5,000 students were girls.

Sorosh said that threatened his safety.

"According to the Taliban's rule, girls are not allowed to be educated, at least those over Grade 7 are not allowed to go to school," he said.

"Women aren't allowed to go outside their house to work. When the Taliban took over, we were terrified and all the girls went into hiding."

According to the federal immigration department, nearly 23,500 of the 40,000 Afghan refugees Canada has committed to resettle by the end of 2023 have already arrived.

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Sorosh said the Canadian government should bring his female students, who often call him crying, to safety here.

"I'm very sad about those girls. They used to come everyday to school with such eagerness and happiness," he said."Now, they are just staying behind the door inside the house and have no other plans and no hope for their future. Just a black future awaits them there."

A few of his students arrived last month in a charter flight that brought 200 refugees to Saskatoon, and he is looking for sponsors for others.

Chanss Lagaden/CBC
Chanss Lagaden/CBC

Sorosh said some of his students were recently injured in explosions and any loud sound triggers those experiences.

Ahmadullah Amery can relate with that.

The 28-year-old arrived last week with his wife and two very young kids. He said his relatives are still in danger.

"There are some family members, like cousins and others, that I want to bring to safety here. The situation is bad at home," he said.

Amery fled to Pakistan before making his way to Prince Albert.

"I want to resume my studies here and begin work. I want to make this my new home," Amery, who was pursuing his sixth semester in computer science, said.

"All I want is to restart my life and be successful."

Rob Kruk/Radio-Canada
Rob Kruk/Radio-Canada

Mohammad Fahim Rasa, who fled Afghanistan and moved to Regina last week, is wishing for the same. The 32-year-old was a multimedia journalist in Kabul.

"When the Taliban took over, basic human rights were understood as being influenced by western ideas. They thought we worked for the western values," he said.

"My family didn't have passports and other travel documents, so I couldn't take them out from there."

Rasa said his family is not safe there, as they were tracked for his journalistic work.

"Four months ago, they took one of my brothers and imprisoned him for three months because of my past work there."

Rasa wishes to pursue a master's degree in Saskatchewan, then work in human rights and civil affairs, and eventually bring his family here.

"I want the Canadian government to speed up the process to bring more Afghan refugees here," he said.

"I find Regina very beautiful. Though it's cold, people are still warm and friendly."