Maryam Sahar Naqibullah speaks at Humanitarian Day event in Lacombe

When Maryam Sahar Naqibullah sets a goal, she sets it high. The 22-year-old from Afghanistan is studying in Canada but plans to return to her home country.

When Maryam Sahar Naqibullah sets a goal, she sets it high.

The 22-year-old from Afghanistan is studying in Canada but plans to return to her home country. Then, she will run for president.

After meeting the passionate Carleton Unversity student, one is left with little doubt her name will one day appear on a ballot.

It could be dangerous, she admits, but she is undeterred.

“I think my passion is stronger and the change that I care for is stronger than the bullets that I’m going to get for it. I’m not afraid of bullets.

“I will only be afraid if I die without making any difference. If I die making a difference, I mean that will be an honour for me because I will serve my country and I will serve the world.”

Asked about the source of her courage, she credits Canada and the schooling it helped provide in Kandahar.

“When you get an education I don’t think you become the type of person who is willing to give up. You become the type of person who wants to fight.”

Naqibullah was in Lacombe on Saturday to speak as part of charitable organization A Better World’s recognition of Humanitarian Day.

The second-year international relations student was only 15 when she began working as an interpreter for the Canadian Armed Forces in Kandahar province. She helped with training sessions, interviews, conferences non-governmental organization meetings and women’s council meetings throughout the province.

When the Taliban suspected she was working with the foreigners, they kidnapped and tortured her brother as a warning.

Her family eventually moved to Kabul because of the danger. In recognition of her services and the risk she was facing, Naqibullah was granted permanent residency in Canada. She continued to work here with the Canadian Armed Forces and trade and foreign services staff to teach them the ways of her country and its people.

As she pursues, what she hopes will become a Phd, Naqibullah is devoted to sharing her message of gratitude and hope. Gratitude for what the Canadians and others are doing to improve her country, and hope for a future where a new generation can follow their dreams and young women can pursue an education.

To many Canadians, Afghanistan is associated with violence and TV and newspaper images of the aftermaths of suicide bombings.

But those tragedies do not define the country.

“There is a resilient and very passionate and very determined young generation that is living there and wanting to take on all the challenges to make Afghanistan a better place,” said Naqibullah.

“If you go to Afghanistan and meet any young person or little kid of five years old, he or she already knows what they want to be in the future,” she said. “They have the same wishes, dreams just like a Canadian would have here.”

In Afghanistan, one of her brothers has just graduated as an engineer, another is studying computer science and her sister is studying medicine. Her youngest brother wants to be a cricketer, she laughs.

“One of my main hopes is as a young person from Afghanistan to go back to my country to invest in women’s education and women’s empowerment and not to give up.

“I, and especially a lot of young people of Afghanistan feel leaving is not the solution, fighting for that country is the solution. My dream is one to go back there and run in the presidential election of Afghanistan and become the female president of Afghanistan.”

Millions of others have their own hopes and dreams. “I just hope the world will not give up on us and continue to support us, particularly in investing more in education.”

After decades of war, change will take a generation. That generation is alive now and she envisions a much different country in the future.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP
Health Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

A fallen Western Red cedar tree at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich, B.C., Thursday, May 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Logging delay agreement for B.C. old-growth tree stand helps endangered spotted owls

Deal announced to hold off logging watershed for a year

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

FILE - Cameron Forte (right) and his Fraser Valley Bandits are 2-0 at the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series after being the Saskatchewan Rattlers. (CEBL photo)
CEBL releases 14-game 2021 schedule, hopes to see fans attend games in person

Season will kick off with the Edmonton Stingers and the Fraser Valley Bandits

FILE - Keegan Messing performs during the Men’s Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won’t be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing leads Canadian figure skating team at world championships

Messing was the only Canadian to compete on the Grand Prix circuit this season

Nurses episode, titled “Achilles Heel,” was first aired on Global in February 2020. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Global pulls ‘Nurses’ episode after scene with Orthodox Jews deemed anti-Semitic

TORONTO — Global TV says it has pulled an episode of Toronto-set… Continue reading

Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two French bulldogs. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Lady Gaga’s dog walker shot, French bulldogs stolen in LA

Dog walker expected to survive injuries

Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano tries to help goaltender David Rittich stop a shot from Ottawa Senators right wing Drake Batherson during first-period NHL action Thursday, February 25, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Colin White scores two goals to lead Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over Calgary Flames

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Military reeling as new defence chief steps aside amid allegations of misconduct

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Most Read