“Country or Coffin” – A Story of Courage and Tenacity

Written by  Wednesday, 03 October 2018 11:17
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Roya Shams, featured speaker on October 15th. Roya Shams, featured speaker on October 15th.

Life can be so unfair. We’ve all felt that at times, whether reacting to global news, local tragedy or personal setbacks. What keeps us going is our collective humanity – knowing that whatever happens we are not alone, there will always be some neighbor, friend or agency to lend support. But there’s no denying that adversity also puts one’s courage and tenacity on the line. How many of us would have the ‘true grit’ to be a survivor, if put to the test?

Take inspiration from Roya Shams, one of the remarkable Afghan girls we hear about who defy the Taliban and risk their lives to further their education. Imagine the fortitude it must have taken to flee her homeland at 16 years of age and put her safety in the hands of strangers and adapt to an entirely different culture.

We are blessed that Roya’s story is now unfolding in Canada, where she came to study with the help of the Toronto Star and its readers. She’ll be in Perth on Monday, October 15th to give a free talk to the public – in an interview format – about her transition from a burka-wearing repressed teenager to an ardent activist for women’s rights and girls’ education. There is both tragedy and inspiration in this tale.

Born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Roya’s progressive views were shaped by her father, a police officer who insisted that his daughters be as well educated as his sons. He taught them to never give in to intimidation, but rather to choose "country or coffin," a statement Roya has taken to heart. Sadly, he was killed in 2011, leaving his family of nine vulnerable to insurgents and targeted by the Taliban. As a young Afghan woman longing for an education, Roya's only choice was to flee her homeland. 

Please join us on Monday, October 15th to hear her incredible tale, being presented by the Perth & District Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) as part of a speaker series held at the Perth Legion (26 Beckwith St E, Perth, K7H 1B5.) Doors open at 6:30pm; donations from non-members would be appreciated.

Contact: Mary Rothfels, CFUW Publicity, 613-264-2934; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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