Refuge in Canada has worked out well for Jomeh Khan Fazeli, his wife Mah Gol, and their family. “This is a good country,” says Jomeh. “We are happy here.”
Life before Canada was difficult. Because of war in his native Afghanistan, Jomeh fled to Pakistan on foot. “I was 16 years old and for 13 days I walked to Pakistan because I didn’t want to fight.” His parents and brother soon followed, staying in Pakistan for a year before moving to Iran where they lived for 25 years. During that time Jomeh married Mah Gol and they had five children.
“Life in Iran was hard,” says Jomeh, explaining that the system worked well for those with money and that corruption was common. He sold automotive supplies at a store at a gas station.
The Fazelis came to Canada as refugees in 2008, and soon after had their youngest child, Yasaman, who was born the same day Jomeh started a job. “I took the bus to work and soon asked for time off as my baby was born,” he recalls with a chuckle. Jomeh works the evening shift at Staff of Life Bakery making bread and samosas. Mah Gol, who made carpets when younger, sometimes helps with the bread. For several months he managed a small store, selling groceries and carpets.
Jomeh and Mah Gol, who speak Farsi and Uzbek, knew little English when they arrived. They are learning the language and have taken English classes at ISANS. Their children are doing well. The younger ones are in school, while three of their oldest are in university – their son studies computer science and two daughters study science and business.
The Fazelis gather with family and others from Afghanistan several times throughout the year to celebrate festive occasions. Mah Gol has a special Canadian friend as well and, while she finds Canadian people friendly, she notices that they are busy with their own lives. “My neighbours are nice but we just say hello, how are you.”
They returned to Iran a few years ago to visit family. As well as Jomeh’s relatives, Mah Gol’s father lives there while the rest of her family – her mother, three brothers and their families – lives in Australia. Thanks to Skype, they stay in touch.
The Fazeli family became Canadian citizens in 2014. Jomeh and Mah Gol feel welcomed in Canada and appreciate that taxes take care of health care as well as basic jobs such as snow removal. The weather has never been a major concern, as they have lived in cold climates. But in the summer they do enjoy the outdoors with their family.
The likeable couple speaks highly of ISANS and recalls how staff helped them access services and showed them around. As Jomeh says, “It was very difficult in the beginning, but because of their help, life soon became easier.”