Red Deer family reunites with nine-year-old son after separation that lasted most of his life
An emotional reunion between father and son occurred Saturday afternoon at the Calgary International Airport as Farid Mustamandy held his son Naween for the first time in nearly a decade.
“I feel very excited, very happy,” said Farid after embracing Naween.”I’m hoping he’s going to school and have a good future and a safe life.”
In 2007, Farid, his wife Rouya, their daughter Sania and members of their extended family, all Afghani nationals, were accepted by the Canadian government to relocate to Canada after they were classified as Protected Persons Abroad. After their application was approved, Rouya discovered she was pregnant and the family, who had relocated to Pakistan years earlier to escape the turmoil in their homeland, believed the child would arrive after they made the move to Canada.
Rouya gave birth to Naween in Karachi, Pakistan on June 23, 2007.
Fearing the child could jeopardize the family’s standing with the Canadian government, the Mustamandys left the newborn in Pakistan with his grandmother as the family departed for their new life in Canada mere weeks after the delivery. The family neglected to inform Canadian officials of the child they had left behind.
The Mustamandys sent financial support on a monthly basis to the grandmother and held video conversations with their son. In 2010, Naween and his grandmother were forced to return to Afghanistan to an area prone to attacks at the hands of the Taliban.
Fearing for the safety of their son but unfamiliar with immigration laws, the Red Deer family was relieved to learn from a friend of the possibility of sponsoring their son for permanent residency in Canada.
In January of 2016, an immigration lawyer filed an application on behalf of the family for humanitarian sponsorship of Naween while acknowledging the Mustamandy’s previous failure to disclose information to Immigration Canada.
The application was approved and Rouya returned to Afghanistan to bring her son to Canada. Mother and son arrived in Calgary on Saturday afternoon to an outpouring of love from their family..
“I’m so happy,” said Rouya after seeing her family together again for the first time in nearly a decade.
“Now he’s here and we’re all so excited to see him,” said Faiz Pamery, a member of the Mustamandy’s extended family. “He was not safe to be there (in Afghanistan).”
“Thank you so much for the Government of Canada to give us a big opportunity to bring him in,” said Timour Mustamandy, Farid’s brother and Naween's uncle. “Now he can start a beautiful life, can have a good education and we don’t have to worry that much.”
Timour Mustamandy says the family will do their best to engage Naween so as not to overwhelm the nine-year-old boy as he adapts to life in his new home. The family looks forward to celebrating Naween’s 10th birthday next month.
Naween’s grandmother has no plans to leave Afghanistan.
With files from CTV’s Kathy Le