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Raise-a-Reader: ‘Education is the key’ for families coming to Canada from Afghanistan

September 29, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

Three years ago, Maryam Zamani was hiding from the Taliban with her family in Kabul. Today, the 19-year-old is enrolled in an English program in Vancouver, preparing for university.

Maryam, her parents, and her three brothers were welcomed to Canada in April. The Canucks Family Education Centre helped the family get into the country and make the transition.

“They helped us with our application, they helped financially,” Maryam said. “Whenever we had a problem, the Centre was there to help.”

The CFEC already had a connection to Maryam’s family through her aunt, Fatemeh Zamani.

Fatemeh came to Canada in 2007 with no formal education, she was just 22. She started with CFEC in September 2017 and eventually got her Early Childhood Educator Assistant certificate. She now works part-time at the organization’s Maywood’s location in the Get Ready 2 Read program. The program is partly funded by The Vancouver Sun’s annual Raise-a-Reader campaign, which has raised over $21 million since 1997.

“The Vancouver Sun’s campaign has been an amazing contributor to the success of CFEC programs all the way along,” said Jean Rasmussen, executive director of CFEC. “It’s through our partners and supporters like Raise-a-Reader that we are able to continue to support children and families in need.”

Fatemeh now has two children that live with her in Vancouver. She is currently enrolled in the ECE certificate program, offered in partnership with the Canucks Family Education Centre and the Burnaby School District Community and Continuing Education ECE program.

“Education is the key,” Fatemeh said. “In Afghanistan it was almost impossible for us to go to school. When I got here, I went to several different colleges to learn English. It didn’t work out for me with my schedule. I had a child and I had to work. CFEC was very useful. It was part-time and we had lots of support that allowed me to continue and finish my English and enrol in early childhood education.”

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