'Normal life was finished': Afghan refugees begin resettling in Waterloo Region

Refugees that escaped Afghanistan are resettling into their new life in Waterloo Region.

Mohammad Ehsan Saadat fled the war-torn country earlier this month with his wife and four children.

“At the beginning of July, I saw there was a lot happening,” he said. “There was security issues, attacking people, attacking districts, attacking security forces, Afghan security forces, and then I decided to leave.”

His family left everything behind to come to Canada.

He says it wasn’t long after their flight landed in Toronto when the situation at home became much worse.

“After we left, after three or five days, everything was gone,” he said. “The normal life was finished.”

Right now he is trying to look forward as he works to secure a permanent home and employment.

“I didn’t want to be a burden for the government,” he said. “I’m aggressively looking for a job here in Kitchener and I’m highly educated in Afghanistan.”

A number of agencies in Waterloo Region are helping families connect with community services.

“That includes health services, food, education, children services, and employment supports,” said Karen Redman, Regional Chair.

Family doctor Neil Arya is treating refugees as they arrive.

“A lot of people who are refugees in general have needs that haven’t been dealt with for years and sometimes decades,” said Arya, the director at the Centre for Family Medicine Refugee Health Clinic.

Advocates are also pushing the federal government to help more refugees make the move.

“Allow for at least 40,000 resettlement’s immediately over the next several years because right now that 20,000 is simply not enough,” said Yasna Taieb, Afghan youth engagement and development initiative program director.