Hossein Safari: As Far As I Can Go

Canada has provided a safe haven for Hossein Safari and his family from Afghanistan — his wife Nazir, and two children, Fahad, 6, and Shahab, 9. In 2001 they arrived in Halifax for what he calls a chance to live in peace.

Hossein is not confident about his English skills and shares his thoughts through an interpreter. “I read about Canada, but what you hear and read are a totally different experience. Traditions and culture – everything is different than what we had.”  In his homeland Hossein worked as a baker and a painter.  He and his family waited three years in a refugee camp in Turkey before coming here. “We were very lucky. Lots of people waited longer.” They did not have the luxury of making a choice. “Life was very hard. We had to leave.”

In Turkey, he worked in a recycling depot and also washed dishes. It was not an easy life, but better than Afghanistan. When they flew to Canada, the view from the airplane caused worry. “It was sea after sea; water after water; I wondered where we were going!”

After an exhausting flight to Germany, Toronto, and then Halifax, they were thrilled to be met by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia and taken to a hotel. All they wanted to do was sleep.  Later Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia provided assistance through their many programs – Settlement Support, Life Skills Link, Family Counselling, Health Services, Interpretation and Community Connections. Hossein says Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia is very special. “Everything we asked, our counselor had already had done it. One by one our problems were solved.”

Everything we asked, our counsellor had already had done it. One by one our problems were solved.

He took a computer course at the library with an instructor who spoke Farsi, his native tongue. Both Hossein and Nazar have been studying English and she also cares for their boys. Hossein is determined to conquer the language. “My first goal is to learn English so well that I can talk about anything I want!” Their two boys go to Duc d’Anville School; the younger son speaks English perfectly and helps his parents.

Hossein wants to complete his education “as far as I can go” and ultimately study nursing – a career he has chosen because his son Shahab is disabled and he believes he’ll be able to help him more.  Hossein says it will take him six years to meet his goal.

Life is challenging for the Safari family. They know many people but haven’t yet built strong friendships. They admire Canadians. “What you see is what you get. Canadians are genuine and kind. If they can help you, they will.” He says he and his wife feel comfortable. “I’m so calm here. I had anxiety before; I was so afraid.”

Hossein will continue to study the language, learn new skills and work toward becoming a nurse. His mother always provided great motivation to study. “I feel happiness in my heart when I think of this.” He’ll use his determination, organization and spirit to get there.