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Mother, daughter to join blinded UBC student in Vancouver

Rumana Monzur at the Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Tuesday, July 5, 2011.

Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail/rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

Rumana Monzur, the University of B.C. student blinded in a domestic attack during a trip home to Bangladesh in June, will soon be reunited with her daughter and mother in Vancouver.

Temporary resident permits were issued to Ms. Monzur's five-year-old daughter, Anoushe, and her mother on Thursday that will allow them to stay with Ms. Monzur in Canada. It is not known when they will arrive.

Since Ms. Monzur's emotional return to Vancouver with her father on July 5, she has had three eye operations, UBC said in a statement on Thursday.

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But it is uncertain whether the 33-year-old master in political science student can regain her sight. Ms. Monzur began medical treatment immediately after she returned to Vancouver, but doctors have determined the damage to her left eye too catastrophic for repair, and they do not know whether vision is still possible in her right eye, UBC said. She will undergo surgery again at Vancouver General Hospital this week.

Ms. Monzur still hopes to complete her graduate studies, which focus on climate change and its impact on developing countries. She remains optimistic about her future, said Louise Nasmith, a vice-president of students at UBC.

"She is maintaining her sense of hope in terms of outlook for her vision, and she's very much waiting for her daughter to arrive," Ms. Nasmith said. "I think that will make a big difference to how she feels."

Ms. Monzur had taught international relations at Dhaka University in Bangladesh before coming to Canada. She had travelled to Dhaka last month to visit her parents, husband and daughter. During the visit, her husband Hassan Sayeed is alleged to have beaten her severely, bit her nose and hands, and gouged her eyes in front of their daughter. Mr. Sayeed is facing charges of attempted murder.

The ordeal triggered an outpouring of support. UBC has collected more than $58,000 in online donations to help Ms. Monzur and her family during the medical treatment. The money will also cover her health needs, living expenses and costs while she completes her studies.

UBC students are also running their own fundraisers for Ms. Monzur, as well as events to raise awareness about violence against women.

Ms. Monzur was not available for comment on Thursday, but she said in a written statement, "I am so grateful to everyone for their support, it gives me so much hope. Once my doctors and I know more about the condition of my eyes, I hope to update everyone who has been so kind to me."

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The UBC Indian Students Association and the UBC chapter of the non-profit organization SEWA International, which aims to promote education in underprivileged societies, has organized a fundraiser on July 16 that focuses on supporting equal education opportunities for women. Other fundraisers include Toonies for Rumana, and a Ramadan dinner fundraiser put together by the Muslim Students Association on Aug. 12.

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