Bawar Beriya’s Story

Safe in Canada, Joins VTN Effort for Afghanistan

“With the help of VTN donors, my daughter now attends school in Canada. She is excited to join her fellow fifth grade and loves learning about arts and science. We are grateful she can pursue her dreams.”

Thanks to our generous donors, the Veterans Transition Network supported the evacuation of Bawar Beriya and his family from Afghanistan after the collapse of the country’s national government in 2021. Bawar was targeted due to his leadership within a Canadian NGO working to improve the lives and livelihoods of Afghans. With little time to prepare, Bawar and his family made the agonizing decision to leave their homes with the help of a VTN ground evacuation team. They embarked on the perilous trip to the Torkham border crossing into Pakistan.

CTV News followed their story from Pakistan all the way to Edmonton where they surprised Bawar’s sister for an emotional reunion. Watch the story here: (CTV video clip – “Watch the moment an Afghan Family was Reunited” 3:40 length).

“Even I’m thinking I’m dreaming,” Bawar told CTV News, offering his appreciation to the Veterans Transition Network and the Canadian government.

“We will remain grateful to this country. This is our second home, and you will see in the coming years we will do a lot of good, contributing to building this country together.”

VTN’s Trauma Counselling pilot projects for Afghan migrants

VTN accepted Bawar’s offer to help those left behind!

Helping individual Afghans: In partnership with VTN, Bawar now organizes important mental health and transitional online programs for Afghans in Afghanistan and Pakistan prior to their arrivals in Canada. More than 500 Afghans have received VTN’s “Basic and In-Depth Trauma, Face to Face and Online Trainings,” adapted from VTN’s 22-year veterans’ mental health programs and translated into Dari and Pashto courtesy of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan).

This Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) training is designed to help Afghan migrants better understand and cope with the traumatic effects of fleeing their homes, the involuntary and sudden migration experiences, and unexpected cultural transition to life in Canada. After completing all modules, each participant receives a certificate of completion from the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Veterans Education and Transition (IVET). Bawar helps other Afghans engage in this valuable program from start to finish. This VTN program is funded through part of a Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) grant that is administered by the Journalists for Human Rights.

Helping families: Bawar also arranges individual zoom counselling sessions for Afghan individuals and families struggling to understand the immigration process. These families are often waiting in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nearby countries to complete their immigration requirements before coming to Canada. Additionally, he links these families to Canadian-based counsellors who can provide direct mental health support as they navigate the next stages of their immigration journey.

Trauma training for professionals: Bawar facilitates VTN training workshops for Islamabad’s Health Aid College of Nursing and Health Sciences (HACN&HS) professors and students in order to share VTN’s trauma experience, knowledge of coping tools and counselling practices. The goal is to help equip Pakistani health providers with the tools to recognize and assist traumatized Afghans who are taking refuge in Pakistan while awaiting onward travel to Canada.

“Migration is traumatic even under the best circumstances. Migrants must build their entire lives anew, a task few if any can accomplish on their own.” – Bawar Beriya

Bawar has more than 15 years of experience as an operations and management professional working with international communities in Afghanistan and around the world. His knowledge, interpersonal skills, and lived experiences of migration allow him to bridge the divide and effectively help Afghans seeking to build a new life in Canada. With Bawar’s help, VTN can share expertise in trauma management through these pilot projects, as we work hard to evacuate those fleeing the turmoil in Afghanistan and anxious waits in third party countries.

Most importantly, Bawar keenly understands what other Afghan migrant families are going through.

Below, photos of his extended family’s harrowing journey during their evacuation to Pakistan via the Chaman border:

A risky journey: Bawar’s family on a VTN donor-funded road evacuation to Pakistan.

Safe in Canada: After months trying to escape Afghanistan, Bawar and family arrive safely in Edmonton, thanks to VTN donors. (Photo CTV News).