Danish Yahyaie arrived at the Peace Bridge Newcomer Centre in Canada with a bouquet of flowers to meet his wife, Alina.
Alina, who is from Afghanistan, had taken a taxi from the Buffalo airport across the Peace Bridge on March 24 to seek asylum in Canada.
Danish escaped from Afghanistan three years ago. He flew into Toronto Pearson International Airport with $700, not knowing a single person in Canada. He applied for asylum and is now a permanent resident.
“Thank God,” he said. “They gave me everything.”
Last summer, he flew to Pakistan where he and Alina were married. They were only able to spend a month together before Danish had to return to Canada and Alina to Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, Alina managed to get a visa to the U.S. She stayed in Arlington, Va., with friends before flying to Buffalo.
In between interviews with Canadian immigration officials, Danish and Alina were inseparable, smiling into each other's eyes in the Newcomer Centre.
One of the staff members at the Newcomer Centre put Alina's flowers into a vase.
“They asked me a lot of questions,” Alina Yahyaie said of her interview with border officers. “I told them everything ... We’re just waiting.”
She was hopeful her claim would be accepted.
If it isn’t, she said, “I’ll die. I hope they don’t tell me something like that.”
“We’ll live here,” Danish said, gesturing to the Newcomer Centre.
Danish had already arranged for them to spend the next week in Niagara Falls, Ont. – the honeymoon they had never had.
Then they’d return to his home in Toronto.
A civil engineer back in Afghanistan, Danish was now working at a tile factory. He said he didn’t mind, proudly showing the callouses on his hands.
“Here I found my freedom,” he said of his new life in Canada. “My speech. My work. Nobody asks me questions ... I love this country.”
A few minutes later, a border officer entered the room and put a stack of papers in front of Alina.
With her new Canadian papers, the couple left the Newcomer Centre. A moment later they returned. They had forgotten her luggage.
They giggled as they retrieved her bags and left again, forgetting Alina’s flowers.