Mary Omar escaped to Canada from Afghanistan with her two daughters in 1982 after her husband was killed and political instability rocked the region — but she never forgot home.
Omar is helping to organize a community potluck fundraiser for Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, an organization which supports educational opportunities for women and girls.
"I was a teacher myself, and if it wasn't because of my education would I have been able to be successful here?" Omar said on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show on Sunday.
"So the reason that I was successful a … newcomer was because of my education and the value that I put on education."
Omar said she has sweet memories of growing up in Afghanistan. Boys and girls both went to school, and they sat in university classes together. Sometimes, Omar said it's hard to believe how free it was compared to how it is now.
"The good thing is I have the pictures to remind me of that yes it was a reality, reality of so much freedom for girls and women in Afghanistan," she said.
"Now in Afghanistan, as you know, after Taliban and even during Taliban it started that education for girls was just a 'no no' thing."
As a teacher herself, Omar wanted to reach out to the women and girls of her homeland so she got involved with Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan. She said they fundraise for different projects including community centres for literacy, online libraries and even providing girls access to technology.
But one of the best things the money goes towards is a teacher's annual salary, she said.
"You train, you educate thousands of girls and thousands of students and think of the future that they could have and it could be a prosperous future for them and that's what we want," she said.
The fundraiser will take place on Sunday in Headingley. For more information visit the website.