Kholvadians in South Africa continued to have the interest of their fellow brothers and sisters in the village. An ambitious scheme was initiated by MAIK in 1972 for approximately 35 Kholvadians in India to migrate to Canada. For many, this was the realisation of a lifelong dream – a fertile new country beckoning new talent that lay dormant in Kholvad. Assisted largely by the financial machinery of MAIK, they finally settled in Canada earning a decent wage and sending assistance to their families back in Kholvad (see the report to MAIK written by Mr. Khote on the following page).
MAIK-SA sent Mr. A. E. Khota (Quarter) on a fact-finding mission to Kholvad to interview prospective applicants. Mr. Goolam Areff and GH Bhabha were also involved in the relocation program to Canada. Quarter personally interviewed the would-be immigrants, collected valuable personal details and gave advice to the settlers.
Unfortunately, due to a clampdown by the Canadian government, that imposed tough new screening procedures at Canadian airports, the pilot scheme was temporarily shelved until relief measures were announced.
At the 1972 AGM, Mr. G. H. Bhabha reported on Kholvadians in other countries:
“You are well aware of my feeling towards matters concerning our institution and Kholvadians in general. My interest in the community resulted in a survey of Kholvadians living abroad. In the countries which I toured extensively with the mercy and kindness of the Almighty Allah I was able to establish the number of Kholvadians living in the various countries:
The Kholvadian Diaspora to Canada had its share of struggles in the initial stages but quickly established themselves as hard-working citizens and their will to contribute to Canadian society was immediately recognised by their Government.
The branch of MAIK in Johannesburg was seen as the mother body and it was through the advice of senior committee members that Kholvadians were assisted to settle in Canada after doors had been closed by the South African and British governments.
The Kholvad House of Canada (KHC) was officially established and registered as a non-profit organization with the Government of Canada in 1980. Since then the community has made sterling progress as the following report from KHC attests to:
Community Projects: Over the past 33 years many projects to help the Kholvad community were established, these include the Bewa Fund, which helps widows in Kholvad and we help pay medical bills for needy people in the village. Over 100 new street lights were installed in 2007 and was completely funded by KHC.
Here, we publish a poignant letter written by the late teacher, Ahmed Hanif Khote, the first Kholvadian to enter Canada, where he paid tribute to Mr Mohamed Bhabha:
Madressa Anjuman Islamia of Kholvad. JOHANNESBURG
DEAR CHILDREN AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF MANAGEMENT.
ALHUMDULILLAH, In 1970 I was the first Kholvadian from Kholvad to immigrate to Canada and I was detained as an illegal immigrant in Toronto, for a few days.
I was released through the immense efforts of Mohamed Bhabha, formerly from Badplaas, Eastern Transvaal and he was the only non-white immigration officer in Canada. I was granted landed immigrant pass and then became a Canadian citizen. With the individual efforts of Mohamed Bhabha, nearly three quarter of the Kholvadians entered Canada and many other Muslims from India and South Africa entered Canada.
When Mohamed Bhabha retired on pension on 12 December 1996, the Government of Canada held a huge retirement function for him and declared through Proclamation December 12, Mohamed Bhabha day and declared a public holiday. It is a very rare honour for the only Muslim to head the Canadian Immigration Department in Canada’s history. Enclosed is a copy of the Government Proclamation Canada.
I hope you will record this historic event in your Annual general meeting report, for 1996. Was Salaam,
Ahmed Khote, Toronto, Canada 18, December 1996.
The Kholvad House Canada committee takes up Khote’s story when they express their gratitude to man whom they consider a legend:
“Khote was preparing to embark on a journey to Canada, hewas feeling sad for leaving home where he was born and grew up. That was his world and only world he knew. There was also some excitement to begin new chapter in life unaware that this journey would change the history of Kholvad and lives of many youth.
He landed on a cold October night with little money in his pocket but with millions of dreams. He found shelter in YMCA and was able to secure work in a mushroom field following day. Fortunately after few days, a Sikh woman co- worker, suggested him to visit Oshawa where he could get employment in a foundry that was hiring. He was hired and worked there for few years and helped other Kholvadians get employment there.
He was able to sponsor his family and this opened doors for other Kholvadians to migrate to Canada. He was joined by his wife Zarina along with their sons Ayaz 6, Munir 4 and mother Rasulbibi Cajee known as Gorikhala Khote and his brother-in-law Mohammed Cassim Khote. Others followed, the floodgates opened and the families never looked back.
He passed away in 2004 leaving behind his legacy and his memories, which we will cherish forever. He will be missed by all who knew him. Ahmed Hanif Khote was the first Kholvadian from India to come to Canada. The risk he took helped not only Kholvadians but many others from other towns in Gujarat. ”