Hussain made the move to Victoria to avoid fighting in a war he didn't believe in
Vendor Sang Hussain shares why he escaped Afghanistan
Sang Hussain was 22 years old when he made the decision he would not become the killing machine that the Afghan government demanded of him. The only way to escape the mandatory army service was to flee Afghanistan. That meant leaving his family behind: his mother, father, two brothers and three sisters, along with aunts, uncles, cousins, and lifelong friends.
With his family’s blessing and support he went to Pakistan, and then India. It was during his time in India he started doing research about where he needed to go to be safe. He had friends in India and they introduced him to some Canadians. He decided Canada would be the place he would start a new life, safe from the government that would surely punish him harshly for leaving the army.
In 1983, Sang stepped off the plane and breathed his first breath of Canadian air. He had $50 and did not speak English. He claimed refugee status at the airport, with the help of a translator. With the government formalities taken care of, he was hopeful about starting fresh in a country with so much opportunity.
Despite Canada’s reputation, Sang describes the years that followed as very hard. He recalls living in a single room with five or six other people, all of them very poor. The language barrier made employment along with daily life difficult. As time went on though, he met other people from Afghanistan and they all helped each other out. He met a woman who would be his common-law wife for the next 20 years. He found work in Alberta eventually, in a factory. Around that time, he stepped on a nail and with all the chaos around him, did not think too much of it. His foot developed an infection, which he treated but had unfortunately waited too long. The infection had spread to the bone, causing him severe pain.
He moved to B.C. and created a healthy and quiet lifestyle for himself. Sang knew he needed help with his foot and leg, and doctors tried to treat him but the infection in the bone could not be reached. He lived with constant pain making employment unrealistic.
In 2015, Sang’s good friend John introduced him to Megaphone magazine and Sang found his fit. He started selling Megaphone in James Bay and quickly felt like he was part of the community. He enjoyed meeting new people and telling them about Megaphone. Many customers ask each time they pass by, “Is the new one out yet?” Sang likes selling a magazine that talks about important social issues.
In addition to selling Megaphone as basic employment, Sang is also fundraising. Where his family is in Afghanistan there are no hospitals or clinics, no medicines, and no medical supplies. Sang is working with a non-profit and currently has a big shipment of medical supplies ready to ship over. He is currently fundraising to pay the $22,000 shipping cost.
While he is focused on helping others get medical help, his own health has required his attention recently. In August 2015, Sang went through with the only solution available for his leg: amputation. He had the surgery and with the use of a wheelchair he is learning how to live differently. He has not let the loss of his leg slow him down. The day he got out of the hospital, he was back to his spot in James Bay, selling Megaphone.
Sang sells Megaphone at Simcoe Street and Toronto Street in Victoria.