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Born in Kabul, Afghanistan |

Paivastun’s family fled to Uzbekistan from Afghanistan at the beginning of the war. He then lived there for 23 years, with the status of ‘refugee’, but not as ‘citizen’. He explains that he and his two brothers never had a chance to go elsewhere until they arrived in Canada in 2012 through UNDP’s refugee program. Since leaving Afghanistan as a baby he has not been back but he says he loves his country of birth and feels that because of his family he has not lost his culture. In Toronto there are a lot of Afghan restaurants and places that make him feel comfortable. Currently Paivastun is studying English at the City Adult Learning Centre and upon graduating he plans on studying to be an international lawyer.

Toronto as Home

Paivastun wanted to be photographed at Masjid Darus Salaam in Thorncliffe Park. He says his religion is directly connected to both his cultural background and country of birth. It is in Toronto, where he found purpose, and a central part of this involves worshiping his creator. After school he stops at the mosque, and this is where he meets his Afghani friends and fulfills his religious duties. While there he prays for his war-torn country, and “his people”.

“I want to gain knowledge, power, patience and abilities to serve [his] country, and… help as many people as [he] can.”

Connection with the Past

Paivastun is holding a Quran, a holy book that is dear to him. When he left Uzbekistan, his mother gave him a copy to cherish. He believes most Muslims, like himself, are peaceful people and feels as if the Quran connects him to his country of birth. The opening verse “Al – fatiha” pictured here is repeated in the five prayers each day, and Paivastun says this sura defines a “real Muslim”.

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