Afghan girl's dream to stay in Canada coming true

Tahera Karimi Hussain, who came to Canada for a life-changing medical procedure — and then hoped to stay — has been approved for permanent residence status.

Immigration process took years

Tahera Hussain is able to stay in Canada and pursue her dreams, Joana Draghici reports. 2:04

Tahera Karimi Hussain, who came to Canada from Afghanistan for a life-changing medical procedure — and then hoped to stay — has been approved for permanent residence status.

Hussain has cerebral palsy and in Afghanistan she wasn't allowed to attend school because of her condition. So her parents reached out to her aunt in Regina.

"I knew it was very difficult for her, especially because she is a female," Zahra Karimi, Hussain's aunt, explained. "She doesn't have any opportunity to get education or to go somewhere, especially with the Afghanistan situation."

Almost six years ago, Hussain arrived in Saskatchewan and underwent surgery to help her walk. A local doctor performed the procedure without charge.

"I can walk," Hussain told CBC News, noting it has been a dream of hers for as long as she can remember. "I wanted to be able to walk better but another part of it was for me to be able to go to school and just have a better life."

She's this incredible kid that deserves this chance.- Immigration lawyer Stephanie Yang

Karimi hoped her niece would be able to stay in Canada but again her medical condition was a stumbling block, this time with Canadian immigration officials.

A lawyer with expertise on immigration matters came to Hussain's aid through the process.

"I first got involved when Tahera wanted to go to school [in Canada], but was not allowed because she didn't have a proper student visa and she didn't have the proper documentation," said Stephanie Yang.

That was in 2009. The next hurdle was permanent residence status.

"We did the ground work in putting it all together [and] collecting all the documentation,"Yang told CBC News. "But it's all Tahera who really made it all happen because she's just this amazing person."

Yang said the key parts of the file were testimonials in support of Hussain.

"We got letters from teachers, letters from the community, letters from the government, letters from all these people that Tahera has touched," she said. "She's this incredible kid that deserves this chance."

It took three years to work through the system but Hussain is now a permanent resident and is studying in Grade 11, with hopes of attending university.

She says she hopes to use her experience to help others in similar situations.

"Just to be able to give back," she said. "I want to have a profession and be someone, so I can help someone else like so many people helped me."

She said she also hopes to get back to Afghanistan to visit her parents.

"To stay away from her parents I know it's really hard for her," added Karimi. "I know it was hard to come here and fight for herself. It was hard, but I'm proud of her. She's doing good."


  • A previous version of this story had Tahera's last name as Hussain.
    Jun 22, 2015 11:53 AM CT

With files from CBC's Joana Draghici


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