Fearless Zeenab Kassam empowered both women and men through education

Senator Mobina JafferON March 20, Zeenab Kassam, a Canadian nurse volunteering in Afghanistan was brutally gunned down by several Taliban. That same day, her family in Calgary was informed about her murder.

Zeenab Kassam was born in Zanzibar to an esteemed family. Her great-grandfather was Vazir Saleh and grandfather was Count Mohammed Varas and both contributed to the economic welfare and emergence of democracy in Zanzibar.

Service through volunteerism was a central tenet of this family. Zeenab, the first and eldest grandchild, grew up with these values. Zeenab and her family had to leave Zanzibar because of the intolerance in the country. They found Canada welcoming, where pluralism, democratic values, and opportunity for all citizens flourished.

Zeenab did not take this for granted and she dedicated her life to helping others.

From a young age, Zeenab was known to have a vibrant personality. She spoke several languages: English and French among them. She was a track and field athlete and a sculptor. Later in life she was an amateur ballroom dancer.

But her real passion was nursing because she believed that it would give her chance to make a difference in the world.

It was this conviction to make a difference that drove her to go to Afghanistan and give young people the gift of education. But Afghanistan was not her first adventure into unknown and dangerous territory. Year after year Zeenab would work until she saved just enough money to be able to take a humanitarian trip.

Zeenab believed so strongly in education that she made the ultimate sacrifice: Her life.

I want to share with you a story that embodies the strength of Zeenab. While Zeenab was teaching in Afghanistan she was approached by a young man she was teaching. This young man asked her if she was worried that she would be killed or kidnapped for the work she was doing.

Zeenab looked at the man and told him that she did not know for sure if she would be killed, but that she did not want to live in fear.

Zeenab is an example of a woman who was so dedicated to empowering both women and men through education that she could thrust aside all fear. I know that you will join me in honouring Zeenab Kassam and all that she stood for.


Help me ask a question to the Government Senate Leader

HAVE you ever wanted to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question? Now is your chance.

I want to give you the opportunity to submit questions to me to ask the Government Senate Leader.

How will this work? When I ask your question, you will be identified by name in the Senate. I will also contact you and provide you with the answer.

In the past month, many Canadians have submitted questions, now I’m asking for yours.

Perhaps you have a burning question about:
* The government recognizing the part played by Canada in the incident involving the Komagata Maru 100 years ago?

* How changing immigration laws will affect your family.

* Your seniors pension plan moving from age 65 to 67.

Whatever your question is I want to ask it on your behalf. If you want to submit a question, email me at mobina.jaffer@sen.parl.gc.ca or call me at 1-613-992-0189.

Do not worry about the format of your question or how it should be asked, send me your ideas and we can work together.

I look forward to working with you.