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Refugee family arrives in B.C. with help from volunteers

Click to play video: 'Comox adopts refugee family'
Comox adopts refugee family
A touching arrival at the Comox Valley Airport on Vancouver Island Saturday. A family forced to flee their home in Afghanistan, coming to Canada as refugees, all with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers who call Comox home. paul johnson has the story. – Dec 23, 2023

A family that fled the Taliban in Afghanistan has arrived in B.C. thanks to the help of some caring volunteers on Vancouver Island.

Michelle Downey, head of the volunteer team from Campbell River, told Global News seven of ten family members of the Ahmadi family had finally arrived in Comox.

“For the last two years, we have been working on (getting) the family (here). They have been hiding from the Taliban,” Downey said.

“The family was literally being hunted by the Taliban. We got them into Pakistan and we have helped them stay in hiding.

“We are beyond disbelief the family is finally here.”

Gul Ahmadi, his wife, and their five little girls arrived safely in B.C. on Saturday.

The head of the Ahmadi family was allegedly killed by the Taliban after refusing to hand over his daughter for marriage in 2021. The Ahmadi family has been in constant motion ever since, moving from place to place in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Gul took over as the head of the family when his father was killed.

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This is BC: Kurdish artist’s work inspired by his experiences

Thanks to Downey, a support group was quickly organized to bring the family to Canada and out of harm’s way.

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This involved, in part, raising more than $69,000 as per the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada requirements. The group also provided financial aid to keep the family going while they were unable to work.

Gul’s sister, mother and brother are expected to arrive next week as well.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” Downey said. “It’s been miracle after miracle.”

Downey said the difficult process of recovery and dealing with trauma comes next.

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“We are concerned about so many years of severe PTSD and trauma … so we have a lot ahead of us still,” Downey said.

Sayed Ahmadi, Gul’s older brother who lives in California, was also in Comox to welcome arriving family members.

“I am super happy … There has been a lot of support,” he said.

“(They) were in a bad situation … they saved (their) lives.”

Sayed said there is no better feeling than seeing his family members arrive safe.

“It’s freedom … it’s freedom.”

The family will be living in Campbell River and have the support of their volunteer group, forever.

Click to play video: 'Afghan refugee reunites with dog in B.C.'
Afghan refugee reunites with dog in B.C.

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