The devastating Taliban invasion would send thousands fleeing, including Muzammil’s family. “My father worked for the Canadian government, and our lives were in danger. My parents, brother and sisters and I were all lucky to get out,” he explains. “All the progress made over 20 years in our country, crushed.” Despite this traumatic upheaval, the Rahimi family, thanks to the support of the federal government and COSTI, would arrive to find housing support and many additional services that would give them some stability and hope for the future.
“Arriving here and seeing the hospitality of the Canadian government and people, and to see how much the people at COSTI care, was a wonderful experience,” says Muzammil.
Muzammil is especially grateful to have been connected to the Youth Employment Pathways for Success (STEM: Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program and COSTI Assistant Manager, Mojgan Haghi, who guided him through four-weeks of training that would give him the tools to continue in his preferred career. “The program is funded by the Western Union Foundation, and targets displaced newcomer and refugee youth between 17 and 25 years of age,” explained Mojgan. “We provide several sessions, including STEM career exploration and career action planning: help with résumés, mock interviews, financial literacy, as well as workshops with guest speakers including representatives from Canada Revenue Agency.” Another key component of the program is to conduct an introductory evaluation of credentials so that participants understand what additional work or studies they need to be job-ready for work in Canada.
The fact that Muzammil could live together with his family, thanks to government and COSTI’s support with housing, meant he could focus on the program and his studies. In fact, he was eventually able to complete his Bachelor’s degree with the university in India online. More importantly, the followup supports Mojgan and COSTI provided after the program was completed, would prove to be invaluable and lead to another important milestone in his new life in Canada.
“He has a passion for computer science but also for helping the community and giving back,” says Mojgan. “That’s why I was able to find him an internship with a non-profit.” The employment opportunity was secured through her connection with a dynamic entrepreneur from India, Anu Bidani, who co-founded a charity, Inno-Hive, and a social enterprise, STEM Minds. Both organizations are committed to helping young people and adults with education and improving their employability.
Muzammil was able to initially secure an internship with Inno-Hive, which led to a full-time job opportunity with STEM Minds, where he is doing data coding and data analysis. “COSTI was able to teach me the Canadian way of life, especially meeting mentors, getting advice from people working at banks and other companies. It really taught me how to think in a Canadian way.”
Today, a 25-year-old Muzammil is very thankful to have a job that will assist his family – and one that will contribute to Canadian society at large. While he and his family always have the news in Afghanistan front of mind, he tries to remain hopeful. As a brother to three sisters, he especially worries about the deprivation of rights for women back home. “I want one day to go back to help the raise their voices and help the Afghan people,” he adds.
His commitment is admirable and equaled by his appreciation for his new life in Canada. “We have peace of mind here and we are so fortunate. If I could tell people about COSTI, I would tell them about all the incredible supports they offer. I was never expecting to come to Canada and start directly working in a field I know.”