Refugee Week 2020 – Maryam’s journey

Maryam’s journey and connection to peace

My parents are from Afghanistan. I was born in Iran and spent my childhood in Afghanistan. I spent my teenage years in Malaysia and now I am living my life in Australia.

My family and I came to Australia by boat back in 2010. My boat journey to Australia was not easy, my family and I spent around 11 days on the ocean. During this journey, I witnessed both the angry and happy sides of nature.

On one sunny day in the ocean, I witnessed 12 different shades of green and blue with sparkles pour on to by the sun. And on another occasion, I witnessed an angry ocean with a storm capsizing another refugee boat.

I questioned myself “is it worth risking my life coming to Australia?”

For me, graduating from La Trobe University back in 2016 was a magnificent achievement. I am the first member of my expanded family to graduate. This is an achievement not many women in Afghanistan can experience: forced marriage, sexism, poverty and war are some of the obstacles they face in their everyday life.

My second greatest achievement is to run a bridal gown business and be a part of one of the happiest moments of a couple’s forever bond marriage.

And my third achievement, which is the greatest of all, was when I registered myself as an organ donor. I put a lot of thought into this decision but knowing 10 to 50 people can be saved as a result, is the best feeling ever.

It was worth risking my life coming to Australia to experience freedom, democracy, equality, access to education and the list goes.

I am connected to the City of Casey through work. I consider myself as a bridge connecting schools, families and students together exploring peace, to learn about one another and to celebrate multiculturalism.

Starting a new life in a foreign country is not easy, but the hardest part comes when you feel unwanted or unwelcome, especially when it comes from people who hold lots of power in the country, the politicians.

Calling refugees and asylum seekers as ‘illegal maritime arrivals’ offended me to the core.

Politicians for long have let go of the words ‘humanity, love, and care’. My message to the broader community is to see us (refugees) as part of the community. Let humanity and love grow out of us.

Our unity will bring success and our division will bring failure.

‘Welcome’ to me looks like, your pain is my pain. If you are hurt, I am hurt. And the best examples I can give in this time is the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest in the United States.

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