Afghan woman rescued by U.K. baroness waits to come to Canada

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ATHENS, GREECE —
Khatera Saeedi has reached the safety of Greece but is still waiting for the go-ahead to reach her final destination: Canada.

The former journalist now humanitarian worker was one of the nearly 80 women and their families – more than 400 people in total — who escaped from Afghanistan to Athens with the help of Britain’s Baroness Helena Kennedy. It was a group that included judges, lawyers, and other professionals.

Saeedi has received sponsorship from an Ontario-based organization called Rideau Bridge to Canada. The group has been supporting her and four of her family members on a quest to reach Canadian soil.

It’s a kindness that hasn’t been lost on Saeedi.

“This is really humanity, being a human,” she told CTV National News. “That a community that never met us, they don’t know us, but they’re really fighting for us.”

Now, they’re waiting for the federal government to open up more spots for Afghan settlers to be welcomed into the country.

In the meantime, Saeedi has been meeting with her fellow compatriots and escapees through the Melissa Network, an organization for migrant and refugee women in Greece.

The gatherings are a place where they can discuss the difficulties of the situation they left behind, while supporting one another as they pave the road ahead.

“It’s very nice to see people around here coming together,” she said. “They’re trying to share information. They’re trying to share the challenges they’re facing here and find a solution.”

She also says that seeing this group of professional women gather to help each other plan their futures has brought a small sense of normalcy after such a distressing situation.

Saeedi began her career as a journalist at a Canadian-funded, female-focused radio station in Afghanistan. She eventually moved on to work for a humanitarian organization.

She described the opportunity to leave the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as “unbelievable,” but it was a bittersweet as well.

“It was a moment of happiness, leaving the difficult situation, leaving all those challenges,” she said. “At the same time, it was a really hard situation that I had to leave my country that I had to leave my professional background, professional life, my job and my family.”

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