Afghan teen dreams of being the 'voice for the voiceless,' but fears for future of her homeland
Published Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:19PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:37PM EDT
An Afghan teenager who came to Canada to fulfill a dream of receiving a formal education said she fears for women in her homeland as Canada’s tour of duty in the war-torn country comes to a close.
In an interview with CTV News Tuesday, Roya Shams said she’s concerned that women and children will once again be denied the opportunity to attend school, and that the absence of Canadian troops on the ground will lead to renewed violence in her native hometown of Kandahar.
“I think the doors will again be closed for women,” she told CTV News’ chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme. “No one can feel safe now in Afghanistan because they are scared the Taliban will just come back and take over and the same violence will start again.”
Shams is currently attending grade 11 at an Ottawa boarding school, but she grew up in Kandahar where her father, the police chief, was killed by the Taliban.
Before his death, Shams’ father instilled in her a dream of a formal education. He sent all five of his daughters to school.
Shams said she was with her father when she first saw Canadian troops in Kandahar. “It was a new picture of another soldier, another hero,” she said.
Her father “had a really good relationship” with foreign troops, Shams said, and told to her that they were there to help.
“They had the same beliefs; that women should be free, that we should have a good educational system, we should have stable security in our country,” Shams said.
It was the people “who were against freedom and independence” that assassinated her father, she said.
Shams said foreign aid and the presence of foreign troops has led to progress for Afghan women in the last 12 years since the war began. Many were able to attend school -- something strictly forbidden under previous Taliban rule -- and as a result, were able to obtain jobs.
After nearly two years in Canada, Shams said she misses Afghanistan, and not being able to see her family.
“I do miss my homeland and it is hard for me, but I really enjoy being in Canada,” she said.
But Shams, who has political aspirations, said she wants to return to her homeland one day, and be “the voice of hope for all women and children in Afghanistan.”