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Courage to Come Back: Medical award recipient taps into inner strength she didn't know she had

Last Updated Jul 30, 2020 at 8:15 am PDT

Mariam Nasrri is the Coast Mental Health 2020 Courage To Come Back Month award recipient in the Medical category. (Courtesy Coast Mental Health)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – All month long, we’ve been sharing stories about people with incredible courage. Now it’s time for one more. Our series of Courage To Come Back Month profiles concludes with a look at the recipient in the Medical category.

“In a conservative society or culture, I would be stoned to death,” admits Mariam Nasrri. She was born in Afghanistan but the Taliban forced her and her family from their homeland. She left her country in the year 2000, but her troubles were far from over.

In 2009, she suffered a concussion, spinal injuries, and damage to the left side of her body after falling down a flight of stairs. She spent the next decade in chronic pain, depression, and isolation.

However, through it all, she persevered and now gives back.

“What I learned here, I simply pay it forward,” she says. “I’m paying forward the kindness that Canada and Canadians, my friends here, who are my family now, just giving me the kindness and just simply paying it forward.”

Her fall also set her off on the path she’s on now.

“It made me who I am today,” she says. “That fall actually might have damaged my body, but it was like a reincarnation of [my] spirit. I found myself, a side of myself, that I didn’t know existed.”

Listen to John Ackermann’s interview with Mariam Nasrri:

It was then that she discovered an inner strength — and a talent — she didn’t know she had.

“I just had one good hand, which was [my] right hand. And I used that to start writing. I started as an outlet and it just started from there.”

Today, she is an advocate for Afghan women, giving them a voice through her writing, as well as on the international stage as the founder of the non-profit Nahz Empowerment of Women and Girls.

She’s also fiercely proud of her adopted country.

“You don’t have a choice where you’re born or the colour of your skin, your religion, your background.”

However, what Nasrri did choose was to live in Canada.

“I’m a Canadian first. This is my choice. This is my country. And this is my home.”

NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of Coast Mental Health’s Courage to Come Back Awards, one of the largest fundraising events of its kind in Western Canada. COVID-19 has drastically impacted funding for Coast Mental Health and many services have been forced to close down to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This year, instead of a singular event, Coast Mental Health is dedicating the month of July to Courage and the five extraordinary recipients who have overcome adversity to give back to their community. Every Thursday in July, NEWS 1130 will profile a recipient on-air and online. For more information or to make a donation, please visit couragetocomeback.ca.