Najeeba’s story

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Najeeba Wazefadost

Leaving your country for good is one of the hardest decisions a person can be forced to make.

It means a break with all that you know – your family, your livelihood, your friends, how to fit in, how to be part of a society – all the familiar sights and sounds and smells and tastes.

Afghan refugee Najeeba Wazefadost © Copyright Hamish Gregory
My name is Najeeba Wazefadost and I am a refugee from Afghanistan. I came to Australia with my family by boat in September 2000.

I was born in a country that is shattered after decades of war that has left little sign of justice, humanity and freedom. People like me who were born into a minority ethnic group (Hazara) are subjected to discrimination and slavery at the hands of the majority ethnic groups.

My childhood was stolen: I don’t have good memories with other children, instead I remember being afraid; I remember persecution and death.

Hazaras have been persecuted ever since the ‘Hazara Wars’ of 1891-1893. There is no one single cause, reasons are both ethnic and sectarian, but Hazaras still face massacres by officials and warlords in Afghanistan.

We came to Australia to find a home where we would be safe. We also wanted to belong – to stop being an asylum seeker or a refugee and once again have the value and rights of a citizen.

Asylum seekers carry sorrow and distress and depend on human sympathy. An asylum seeker is a kneeling person; kneeling in front of the captain of the ship to ask for a reduced escape price; kneeling in front of the aid agency asking to be saved.

They get on a boat, on a piece of wood, not knowing where its taking them; their safety and security limited to that piece of wood, risking starving or drowning at sea.

We hear politicians saying things like, “Australia is accepting a large number of refugees for an industrialised country”. Those numbers consign people to the status of simple statistics. You can forget that people, whether they are asylum seekers or not, are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, grandparents, daughters and sons.

Najeeba (centre), with her sisters Nooria (left) and Raihana (right) at home in Sydney. © Hamish Gregory
After 10 years, I still remember life in the detention centre but thankfully it no longer defines who I am. I am no longer part of statistics. The asylum seekers arriving now continue to be numbers, to be statistics.

We beg the Australian politicians to look at these people from a human point of view, with mercy, not from the political point of view, with power. Please put your politics to one side and treat them as human beings.

My dream was always to get an education. I came to Australia with no English and have now graduated high school and have a degree in medical science. I hope to be a doctor one day. I will always thank Australia for giving me the opportunity to be educated, safe and secure and I want to contribute to Australia and make it proud of me.


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  1. boyd scott

    After watching Q & A last night,I was very impressed with this young lady`s poise and attitude to her life in Oz. I have strong opinions about allowing people who have flown into Indonesia from the Middle East, then paid a people smuggler`s fee before burning their passport and heading over to our territorial waters, to be considered as genuine boat people, as opposed to those coming from their strife-torn country directly to our shores via a vessel of sorts..

    I have always understood their reasons for seeking out a future in ‘the lucky country’ but only on the proviso they work hard to adapt to our lifestyle, rather than try to change it to suit them.

    Folks like Najeeba give me a warm inner glow at their successful navigation of the issues of becoming a part of our society and in such a short time span. I am happy to stick up for the likes of the Najeeba`s of this world and welcome their acceptance of the Australian lifestyle.

    After all, it is exactly our open and egalitarian culture and way of life that has attracted migrants here post Federation (even despite such bad old sytems as the White Australia Policy et al). We are,indeed, the lucky country but only whilst we encourage those new arrivals to fully open themselves to the Australian climate,culture and laws and aim to be good Aussie citizens as a matter of course.

    Goodonya Najeeba!

  2. Sally Humphrey

    Najeeba, I continue to be inspired by you and your family. I am a language researcher and have followed and researched your stories for a number of years. I continue to show the essays and speeches you have produced to teachers and students to celebrate what young people can do with language to make a difference beyond the school curriculum. I look forward to hearing of your happy future as a doctor and citizen in the future
    I would also like to share with you the work I did researching your writing in my research.
    Sally Humphrey

  3. Arif Nabizada

    Najeeba jan great job, we are proud of for what you doing in the community

  4. Qadir

    The last sentence of Hazi Sonan carries great weight in resolving the problem in Afghanistan. Each and every afghan should share the country equally by giving it a federal system of local governance. An impartial public service commission be set up for employing all the employments entirely on merit basis. That should include recruitment in security foces and army as well. Meritocracy should operate literally when it comes to governance where each and ever individual can operate his/her talent, skill and ability at full capaciy as are being done in developed countries of the world. The system should include a monitoring system of appreciation and depreciation in terms of HIRE AND FIRE following the pathway of developed countries.

    Given that it can only be done when the countries operating there should show willingness and play a pivotal role in materialising an accordingly system there in the first place.

  5. Hazi Sonan

    Nice writing article and the main reason of which was subjected to the Australian Government to ease its immigration rules for the upcoming migrants!
    I wish her very best of luck in her education! and to each and every afghan youth i would like them to read this and promote the sence of education and peace within themselves there families, societies and the nation as a whole! it is hard to see a prosperous afghanistan in the near future but it isnt impossible if the nation stood together with the awareness of equality within each ethnicity with fair chances of education, respect, authority and involvement in the government.
    Best of Luck

    Peace for Afghanistan