ATHENS, GREECE – Khatera Saeedi has reached the safety of Greece but is still waiting for the road ahead to reach her final destination: Canada.
The former journalist and humanitarian worker is one of nearly 80 women and their families – more than 400 in total – who escaped from Afghanistan to Athens with the help of British Baroness Helena Kennedy. It is a group of judges, lawyers and other professionals.
Saeedi received funding from an Ontario-based organization called Rideau Bridge to Canada. The group supported her and four members of her family in their journey to Canada.
It is a kindness that has not been lost in Saeedi.
“This is really humanity, being a human being,” she told CTV National News. “It’s a community that has never met us, they don’t know us, but they really fight for us.”
Now, they are waiting for the federal government to open more spots for Afghan settlers to be welcome into the country.
In the meantime, Saeedi met her countrymen and escaped through the Melissa Network, an organization for migrant and refugee women in Greece.
The gatherings are where they can discuss the hardships of the situation they have left behind, and support each other as they pave the way forward.
“It’s nice to see everyone here coming together,” she said. “They’re trying to share information. They’re trying to share the challenges they’re having here and find solutions.”
She also said that seeing this group of professional women gather to help each other plan for their futures provided a small sense of normalcy after such a distressing situation.
Saeedi began her career as a journalist at a Canadian-sponsored women-focused radio station in Afghanistan. She eventually moved on to work for a humanitarian organization.
She described the chance to leave the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as “unbelievable”, but it was also bittersweet.
“It was a moment of happiness, leaving the difficult situation behind, leaving all the challenges behind,” she said. “At the same time, it was a really difficult situation that I had to leave my country, which was that I had to leave my professional background, professional life, work and family.”