Nest provides asylum to women activists

Nest is working to sponsor women activists from Afghanistan and Sudan, who were forced to flee their homes due to their work for women’s equality.

Maryam oneNest is sponsoring Maryam, her spouse and two small children. Maryam (pictured here) is an Afghan journalist specializing in gender and human rights. She also is a member of the persecuted Hazara minority. When the Taliban took power on August 15, they occupied the government office where she was teaching a class on gender rights. Maryam was forced into hiding. “Everything I worked for and dreamed for. . .ended,” she writes. “There will be no space for gender work in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. My own life is now at risk.”  

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet wrote a story about women in Afghanistan in September and that’s how Maryam came to Nest’s attention.

Nest also sponsored Afghan women’s activist and human rights champion Maria Reha and her two adult sons who were forced to flee Afghanistan in late August. Maria, who worked for the UN, Oxfam, UNESCO and other international organizations for the last 20 years, arrived safely in Saskatoon on May 14.  Thanks to the Mennonite Central Committee of Saskatoon for arranging the sponsorship and to everyone who donated to make it happen! 

Most recently, Nest agreed to sponsor Afghan prosecutor Rohi Rasa and her husband. We are currently working to raise $22,000 for the sponsorship. Thanks to the Saskatoon Catholic Diocese for providing spots for both Rohi and her husband and Abeda and Zainab!

Nest is sponsoring Afghan activists Zainab and Abeda photo oneZainab and Abeda, who worked in a government office in Afghanistan committed to reconciliation. When the Taliban took control in August, their office was closed.  “I am in a life-threatening situation because I am a women’s activist, who criticized Shariah Law before the Taliban takeover,” says Zainab. 

Abeda also worries about her safety. The Taliban are looking for her. Once she finds asylum, Abeda says she can “eat grass and sleep on the footpaths, but I have to escape this life threatening situation here.” Both women are members of the Hazara ethnic minority. Thanks to all the people who donated to support their sponsorship.

Social justice activist Wafaa Idress worked for women’s equality in Sudan, where women continue to fight for freedom, dignity and justice. In early 2000, Wafaa defended the rights of women to education, and freedom from marriage at a young age. She and the other members of her women’s groups were harassed and detained by security forces for “encouraging women to disobey their husbands.”   When Wafaa completed her nursing degree, she was barred from employment in Sudan. Faced with no employment or better future, she sought asylum in Saudi Arabia, where she continues to face discrimination. In September, Nest agreed to sponsor Wafaa and her family to Saskatoon. 

Wafaa’s aunts Ebtsam and Safia Elsheikh and her sisters Safaa and Alaa also were forced to flee Sudan over the past decade due to their commitment to women’s equality. They now live in Saskatoon.

Want to help bring these women activists to Saskatoon? 

1. Mail your cheque payable to Nest Saskatoon to: Nest Treasurer, 37 Phillips Cres, Saskatoon, S7H 3M9. Please include your mailing address so we can send you a charitable tax receipt. Tell us which activists you want to support!

2. E-transfer your donation. Send your donation to: along with your mailing address so we can send your charitable tax receipt. 

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