Bahar’s Story

Bahar was in her second year at Fleming College, studying to become a pharmacist technician, when she learned she was pregnant with her second child.

Bahar registered for our “Earn While You Learn” Program in the fall of 2016. She was able to work around her busy school schedule and come every week to attend parenting classes. She looked forward to learning the material, but something weighed heavily on Bahar’s mind during the visits: her student placement was to start in the spring; the same time her baby was to be born. How would she manage it all?

For Bahar, getting her diploma—and doing the mandatory placement—meant more to her than to most. That’s because as a Muslim woman her ideas were often being challenged or disregarded altogether. One of her ideas was about getting a higher education, something that her father had always encouraged, and becoming more self-sufficient.

A diploma wouldn’t just symbolize her independence as a Muslim woman, however, it would also symbolize her victory over adversity during difficult times. Several years prior, Bahar recalls a dark period of her life that still pains her to think about today. It was when she was 18 years old and had emigrated from Afghanistan to Peterborough with her husband Mohammad. She was also pregnant with her first child, Sara. Unfamiliar to the culture, language and surroundings, and being physically separated from her network of family and friends, Bahar soon found herself extremely isolated at a time she needed loved ones the most. (Her husband worked long hours away from home, and wasn’t able provide much extra support.) When Sara was born and Bahar’s need for support increased even more, her emotional state worsened. Bahar describes being consumed by feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness so intense that every second of her day was made a challenge. In her bleakest moments, however, Bahar would remember her dream of getting an education and making something out of herself one day and this would empower her to keep pushing forward. 

As Bahar’s due date approaches with her second pregnancy and so does the time her student placement would start, Bahar grows more and more anxious over the conflicting timelines. Then to make matters worse, her placement plan falls through… and so does the next one… and the next one. Before she knows it, she runs out of time to secure a spot at all and her anxiety turns to feelings of failure and discouragement. What seems to always uplift Bahar’s mood, however, is talking about the Muslim traditions that are close to her heart. One of those traditions is the festival of Nowruz—the Persian New Year and the beginning of the spring equinox—where friends and family come together to celebrate the start of spring and the renewal of nature, and to reflect on the important things in one’s life. Nowruz is always an exciting time for Afgans in that there is gift-giving between loved-ones, and special foods shared amongst all. To add to the excitement this year, Bahar gives birth to her son, Daniel, on March 21— the first day of Nowruz! 

With the onset of spring and the beginning of a new life, Bahar also turns a page within herself. She stops feeling defeated and, instead, starts basking in the reality that she has already achieved success in this world—and that is by being a mother! From this point forward, Bahar comes beaming ear to ear to her appointments.

In recent conversations with Bahar, she explains how helpful it was for her to come to the centre during her pregnancy. As a very private person, it was important for Bahar to deal with her problems with people outside of her social circles. This allowed her to freely open up about her struggles without fear of potential judgement from those she knows. Additionally, talking about her issues and exploring potential solutions with someone who cared helped ease her anxiety and made her feel a lot less lonely. It also helped her gain acceptance of her situation all while feeling supported through that process. Bahar also admits that she would have had a much more positive experience with her first child, if she had known about our centre when she first moved to Peterborough. She can especially see the value of our services for new immigrants who are facing pregnancy while being separated from their family.

When asked about her school plans, Bahar still hopes to finish one day when the timing is right. For now, she just wants to focus on being a mom and is even contemplating on having another child…