Afghan national costume from a child’s doll.
Image: Wesa Chau
‘Living in Afghanistan was a dangerous struggle for a woman without a man in her life
‘I escaped Afghanistan in 2000 with my daughters Fatima and Mazhgan, and my two-year-old granddaughter, but Pakistan was even worse. A smuggler’s boat brought us to Papua New Guinea, but we had to flee deportation. The kind Australian Navy found us at Ashmore Reef after 30 days on a crowded, dangerous boat. We faced terrible uncertainty for nine months at a detention centre but we were safe and therefore happy.
‘After release we were destitute in Melbourne. St Vincent de Paul staff became our rescuers and close friends.
‘My daughter Mazhgan has an intellectual disability. She was terribly traumatised by our experiences, but with disability support I can look after her. She has even obtained a limited driver’s licence, which gives us freedom of movement. We have bought a flat and life is great, although I worry about my siblings in Kabul.
‘Never doubt that Australia is the country of dreams – like mine, which came true.’