Rashid Ahmed and Virdah Rashid were forced to live apart for years.
They married in 2018 but have been apart since then, save for a few, rare trips Rashid could make.
“I’m hoping and praying and praying that my wife will be here soon,” Rashid told Global News in November 2020.
He can stop praying. On Wednesday, Virdah arrived in Saskatoon — her new home — with their new baby.
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“At first, I didn’t believe it,” she said, moments after stepping off the plane.
“I mean, am I going to Canada, really?”
Rashid and Virdah are Ahmadiya Muslims, a minority sect, and for more than 15 years Virdah was a refugee in Iran, fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan.
She recently returned to Pakistan because they believed she’d have a better chance of getting a Canadian visa from there.
Politics, prejudice and the pandemic kept them apart. It was difficult and expensive for Rashid visit Virdah even before COVID-19 shut down travel. They spent hours on the phone every day talking.
But Rashid learned early this year he would need to make another trip.
Virdah was pregnant.
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Her visa had come through but she was so close to delivering her baby she couldn’t fly.
Rashid tried to make it to Pakistan for July 21, the expected due date.
“My flight was canceled for (July) 11 and then (it was) rescheduled it for the 15th,” he said. “But again it was cancelled.”
The baby was early and he missed the birth.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I am this time alone,’” she said. “My parents are not here and my husband is not here, so it’s very bad for me.”
Hospital staff called Rashid during the delivery with bad news.
“It was a very distressing moment because doctors are saying that Michelle’s heartbeat is not working properly. So, I was just crying.”
But both Virdah and Michelle, their daughter, were alright.
Rashid gives all the credit to Virdah
“She’s a brave woman,” he said, “and I am very lucky to have her in my life.”
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He said holding his daughter for the first time was one of the most memorable days of his life.
“I think it was amazing feeling, as a dad,” he said. “I was super excited.”
The family was finally able to make it to Canada after waiting a few months for Michelle’s documents. They landed in Toronto and travelled a few days later to Saskatoon.
Virdah says she wants to return to school and to travel around Canada. She said she wants to visit Jasper and Banff.
But above all, she and Rashid can’t wait to finally start their new life — together, with Michelle.
“Now I’m so happy,” Virdah said. “Oh, thanks God, my dreams came true.”
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