This year, IAYS-VI was held at the North York Civic Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on October 2, 3, 2004 (Saturday and Sunday) and co-hosted by the Afghan-Canadian Professionals of Ontario (ACPO) and the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization (ACYO).

The theme of the summit was ???Empowering Youth???.  The year also marked the very first time the IAYS was held outside of the US, thus becoming an international event, six years after its inception with many participants from across North America and Europe.

This year???s summit continued to build on the tradition of providing a forum to share ideas, provide networking opportunities, and to address the most common obstacles facing our youth and community.

The broad theme of ???empowering youth??? challenged and allowed us to pursue a unique approach in addressing some of the most common issues facing our youth.  These issues were addressed through presentation of six unique workshops, each highlighting a specific area of concern and supported by novel approaches in addressing the question of empowering youth.  A summary of these workshops is presented below.

Presenters were carefully chosen from a group of dedicated and successful organizations working for/with the Afghan youth to share their experience in dealing with major issues and to address some of their successful working strategies in continuing to empower the Afghan youth.   A summary of these talented presenters is presented below.

We, the Afghan Canadian Professionals of Ontario (ACPO) and the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization (ACYO), would like to sincerely thank but in no specific order: all participants, who took the trouble of flying/driving from far places of the continent(s) to attend the summit; all presenters and organizations who presented their work and spent many countless hours putting up with our grilling and questions; all volunteers from ACPO, ACYO, friends and family members who dedicated their time and energy to make sure everything run smoothly during the summit, at the social and the tour; the summit advisory committee members and chair for their efforts and time in making sure everything went according the norms and schedule; the people who made the social a fun fair, from the DJ to singers and entertainers; and last but not least to all the ACPO and ACYO joint summit committee members who spent long days and sleepless nights (telling me what big a mistake we made to host the summit-fearing imminent disaster) in trying to meet deadlines amid busy schedules and obligations.  I am indebted to these individuals who did more than an excellent job in making this year???s summit a truly memorable event and a model to build on.  All the best and hope to see you in the next summit.

Haroon Mohsini

  1. Empowering Youth Through Spiritual Means


Spirituality can be a topic that is at times both controversial and healing.  This workshop explored ???Empowering Youth Through Spiritual Means:  The role of spirituality in a young person???s life.???  It focused on a successful program being implemented by the Youth Section of Jame-Islami, which organizes a youth group every Friday night.  This workshop provided the participants with practical tools to encourage the role of spirituality as an empowering force in the lives of youth.




Eliyas Jeffay

Eliyas is a first year Neuroscience student at University of Toronto and is also a Life Insurance Agent. He facilitates the Open Discussion Class at Jame Islami, is an administrator of the Youth Section and a motivational speaker. He volunteers actively in the Islamic Community of Afghans inCanada and provides computer and technical support.

Jamshid Hussaini

He is the youth leader of the Youth Section in Jame Islami.  Jamshid is actively involved in the Islamic Community of Afghans in Canada. He is a modern religious lecturer in Farsi. He is also a Real Estate Agent and a York University Student studying Mass Communications.

Fariba Shahsamand

Fariba is a fourth year Social Work and Psychology student at Ryerson University. She has over two years of work experience in the area of youth employment, social justice and community services. Currently she is completing internship as a credit counsellor. She is a board member of the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization, the coordinator of the Youth Section of Jame Islami and the facilitator of their Open Discussion Class. She is the Editor of the Youth Message and actively volunteers at the Islamic Community of Afghans in Canada

  1. Empowering Youth Through Education

Education is the key to life???s many successes and this workshop explored innovative programs that empowered youth through different methods of education.  It was a joint workshop between members of the Afghan-Canadian Professionals of Ontario and the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization.  It was a very interactive/dynamic and very practical (3 successful projects were presented)workshop.  Participants learned about tools to take back to their community and run their own projects, they got a chance to ask questions and share their experiences, and they got a chance to network with others.


Tamim Saleem


Tamim was born in Afghanistan and spent about 5 years in Pakistan as a refugee before coming toCanada in 1993.  He went through all the usual difficulties as a newcomer.  He graduated from high school and pursued a career in Computer Engineering.  Currently he is married and has as he puts it ???two awesome boys.???  He has been involved in the Afghan community especially with youth since 1996.  He is one of the founders of the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization (ACYO) and currently volunteers there as a Community Development Officer.  His goal in life is simple, “helping and assisting others”.

Najiba Saleem

Najiba is currently majoring in business marketing. She has been volunteering with ACYO for the past four years. She also had the pleasure of working on ACYO’s Mentorship Project as a Youth Coordinator.  Besides her family and school her goal is to make ACYO even a bigger success (inshallah).

Leeza Paiwand

Leeza is the Co-Founder and Treasurer of the Afghan-Canadian Professionals of Ontario. She has been actively working in the IT industry for over 7 years, owns an IT consulting business and is currently working as a Computer Programmer/Networks Engineer with Siemens Canada.

Haroon Mohsini

Haroon is a Doctor of Chiropractic and the co-founder, director and currently the president of the Afghan-Canadian Professionals of Ontario (ACPO), Canada. He has been active in the Afghan community of Ontario for over eight years.  He has served as the president, treasurer and public relations officer of Afghan Students Association of University of Toronto during his undergraduate years. He has also been an active member of the Afghan Association of Ontario (AAO), and currently a member of the advisory committee of the IAYS.


  1. Empowering Youth in Rebuilding Afghanistan

Helping in the rebuilding efforts of Afghanistan is a dream that many Afghan youth have, yet that dream seems impossible at times.  This workshop shed some light on initiatives taken both in theUnited States of America and Canada to rebuild Afghanistan and it provided information on how youth outside Afghanistan can easily contribute to the rebuilding efforts.  May resources and tools such as suefulw ebsites, names of organizations to contact and so on were given out during this workshop and after the workshop as well.

Khaleda Atta

Khaleda Atta was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1979 and was raised in the U.S. She is currently a M.A. student in International Policy Studies (specialization in International Trade & Development) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, CA. She was President of Society of Afghan Professionals (SAP) from 2003-2004 and currently holds office as a Board Member, PR Manager and Project Manager for the SAP Jawjzaan School Project. She is also on the Board of Advisors of both The Children of War (Springfield, VA) and the Inter-Afghan-Youth Summit. She traveled toAfghanistan in March 2002, leading a delegation of Afghans & Americans for Global Exchange to get involved in Reconstruction efforts, and in May 2003, assisted with preparations of the Afghanistan Development Forum/2003-4 Budget & Donor conference in Kabul through the Ministry of Finance.  Khaleda has been writing for since 1997 and won the 2004 Most Active Afghan of the Year award from Afghan Communicator and the Inter-Afghan-Youth-Summit V at Stanford University.

Jahid Alefi

Jahid is a College graduate in Information Systems and Aircraft Maintenance Engineering. He has been working for WestJet Airlines and SkyService FBO. He has been a volunteer with the Canadian Armed Forces for the last 11 yrs and served in Afghanistan with International Security Assistance Force, Canadian Civil Military Cooperation.

  1. Empowering Youth On Mental Health Issues Through The Media


This exciting workshop was an introduction to a new experiment to reaching youth that have fallen through the cracks of our society.  It provided participants with some non-traditional tools to empower youth on the topic of mental health and well-being.  It was well received and many discussions on this topic followed even after the end of the workshop.  The participants found it to be a new and differenct approach towards youth.



Mina Sharif

Mina is the 24-year-old producer and host of Tar-o-Taaza Radio Program. She has a background in radio with over six years of on-air experience and a certification from the National Institute of Broadcasting. In 2002, a tragic family loss motivated her to learn more about the situation of Afghans in Toronto. To combat the mental health crisis in the Afghan Community, she became an active volunteer at Sabawoon Afghan Family Education and Counselling Centre (S.A.F.E.).

Ramis Jamali

Ramis was born in Kabul 21 years ago.  Leaving his homeland in 1993, he lived in Germany andNetherlands for 6 years and finally came to Canada in 1999. He is in the 2nd year of Multidisciplinary Studies at York University focusing on Law, Philosophy and Politics. For the past year he has been actively involved in the Afghan community. He has been one of the founding members of the ???Solha: Peace??? organization which promotes unity among Afghans.  He is an advisor to Afghan Health and Education Charity (A.H.E.C). He is one of the hosts for Tar-O-Taaza Radio Program.  Ramis also established the ???Give a Heart??? program to spread awareness among the Afghan community and fundraise for Jamshid Popal, an Afghan child dealing with a failing heart.

Aneel Hashemi

Aneel finished High school in Pakistan and came to Canada in May 2002. Currently he is a grade 12 student in Laurier High School. He successfully finished workshops at S.A.F.E Counselling Centre and the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization (ACYO) and is volunteering as a board member with ACYO and a host with Tar-O-Taaza Radio Program.  Aneel was also a trained mentor with ACYO???s mentorship program.


Wajma Omar

Wajma is 24 years old and immigrated to Canada in 1989. She is a B.A graduate in Psychology from York University. She is currently working as the Youth Addiction Worker at S.A.F.ECounselling Center.

  1. Empowering Youth Through the Arts and Drama

Imagination and creativity can be the keys to happiness according to the Dalai Lama.  This fun and interactive workshop explored successful and positive models of youth empowerment through the arts and drama.  It was the last workshop of the Summit and everyone attended it.  Presented by three differenct dynamic young members of the Toronto Afghan community this workshop was found to be a great ending to a great Summit by most participants of the Summit.  It was packed with ideas, talent and interactions between the presenters and the audience.

Anti-Oppression Theatre Project (AOTP)

Following 911 the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization saw a dire need to protest against racism, stereotype, cultural violence and other types of oppression in a non-violent manner.  To meet this challenge the Anti-Oppression Theatre Project, a dramatic work entirely envisioned, scripted and presented by Afghan youth in the Greater Toronto Area, was created and shared with the greater community in Toronto.  The theatre project empowered youth in several ways, the most important being the therapeutic value gained with sharing the anger and frustration of our youth in educating the public of the issues that gave rise to these emotions in the first place.


Ali Ibrahimi

Ali Ibrahimi is currently completing his 4th year of undergrad studies in Biology at McMasterUniversity.   Ali dreams of using his knowledge and experience in biology to advance the educational infrastructure of Afghanistan. Ali has been a dedicated member of ACYO for the past two years now.  Major contributions to the organization includes his participation in all components of ACYO’s Anti-Oppression Theatre Project, his attendance at IAYS IV in New York on ACYO’s behalf, and his efforts in organizing IAYS VI in Toronto.

Immigrant Culture and Art Association (ICAA)


This organization has helped many afghan and immigrant children to get in touch with their artistic side. Students of the organization have had the chance to exhibit their talents in various projects. Some of the selected students also had the opportunity to participate in an environmental artistic project in which environmental extremities were shown in two massive murals. This project is still in progress. Over half of the students participating in the project were new Afghan immigrants.


Hila Taraky

Hila are a grade 12 students born on September 20, 1987. She has successfully completed three semesters at the Immigrant Culture and Art Association???s Professional Art School being awarded many certificates in the process. She also teaches art classes for youth at the Art School. She has participated in numerous exhibitions. She has represented ICAA at the Rooftop Festival dedicated to the World Cycling Championship, which was held in Hamilton in 2003. Hila is presently a lead artist of a design group for an Environmental Art Project.  Currently she is working in the advisory committee of the Bay Area Leadership Program.



How does art empower youth? This presentation was a combination of video images and oral narration. The video demonstrated some of Neelob Baharabi???s artwork and the oral presentation presented some explanation as to how art has played an important role in her life.



Neelob Baharabi


Neelob Baharabi is 21 years old and was born in Afghanistan. After fleeing Afghanistan she spent seven years in Russia before coming to Canada in 1998. Currently, she is a 3rd year Chemical and Biochemical Engineering student at the University of Western Ontario. She is also a volunteer at the Afghan Canadian Youth Organization (ACYO).



This workshop has been offered at each IAYS since its inception.  Its purpose has been to provide information about the ???basics of not for profit organizations??? to groups and individuals interested in initiating a new organization in their community.  It was designed to address a step by step approach to operating an organization from initiation to sustaining and operating it successfully in a competing market.  Participants found this workshop to be very useful and informative in addressing the common concerns of running any organization.


Rameen Moshref Javid

Executive Director ??? Afghan Communicator. Afghan Communicator is a community based, grass-root organization dedicated to education, advocacy and youth leadership. AC???s main focus is the Afghan community and the Muslim communities in New York. It also serves the larger community in New York and the broader Afghan community.

Founder and Chair ??? IAYS