Winnipeg man fears for relatives in Afghanistan

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As the Taliban claim Kabul, a Winnipeg man who fled Afghanistan as a refugee 30 years ago is anxiously watching developments in that country.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/08/2021 (404 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As the Taliban claim Kabul, a Winnipeg man who fled Afghanistan as a refugee 30 years ago is anxiously watching developments in that country.

Shoaib Ebadi, 55, is in constant contact with his sister, a high school principal, and other relatives in that city.

“She is frightened, fearful and buying burqas for herself, daughters and granddaughters,” he said.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE FILES Shoaib Ebadi, who came to Canada in 2000 as a refugee from Afghanistan, is in constant contact with his sister, a high school principal in Kabul.

His sister said she expects her school to be closed, and to lose her job when the Taliban take over since that group doesn’t allow women to work outside the home.

“She is fearing for her life, and for the lives and future of her granddaughters,” he said, adding she is worried they will be forced to marry Taliban fighters.

She is pleading with him for help to get out, but there is nothing he can do.

“It’s a life and death situation,” he said.

In addition to worrying about his sister and other relatives in Afghanistan, Ebadi, who is executive director of Square One World Media, a Christian organization that shares religious programming around the world, is also in contact with others in the country.

“I get many e-mails and messages,” he said, including news about atrocities, killings and rapes.

“I’ve seen videos of the Taliban taking crying girls from their families,” he said.

This is different from just a month ago, he said, when social media from Afghanistan “was filled with laughter and music and dancing.” Now these same people are fleeing the fighting and killing, he said.

Ebadi’s main concern is for women and girls in Afghanistan, along with other vulnerable people like widows and orphans.

“They cannot defend themselves,” he said.

He is also concerned for Christians, a very tiny minority in Afghanistan, who are especially afraid for the future.

“They think they will be attacked,” he said, adding other religious minorities are in danger, too.

“They are afraid the Taliban will kill them.”

Ebadi, who came to Canada in 2000 as a refugee from Afghanistan, admits to feeling helpless about the fast-moving situation in that country. But he is holding on to hope.

“My faith and hope is in God,” he said. “I think God hears the cries of the women and children. I think God is weeping over the situation.”

Even though he acknowledges it’s hard to understand God’s will now for Afghanistan, “at the same time I always believe there is hope, to my last breath, that God will have mercy and rescue those who can’t rescue themselves. I have to have hope in the midst of this despair.”

His message to Canadian Christians is to pray for Afghanistan.

“I am asking for people to pray for peace, and for wisdom for world leaders,” he said, adding he also is asking them to not forget people in that country.

“I know it is hard, with the pandemic and other issues, but we need to pay attention,” he said, adding Canadians can also contact their members of Parliament to voice their concern.

“We need to give voice to the voiceless,” he said. “Their dreams and life have crashed.”

Doing this will give hope to the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Afghans in Winnipeg, he said, letting them know they aren’t forgotten.

And if Canada follows through on its plan to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees in this country, Ebadi hopes churches will respond by offering to be sponsors — as so many did in 2015 when Syrian refugees were brought to this country.

As for the future, he realizes things look bleak. “But I am trusting in God, hoping something good can come out of this darkness,” he said.

faith@freepress.mb.ca

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