Arezo Hami has just finished grade 12 exams, but navigating Australian bureaucracy to help her family and friends back in Afghanistan has proved to be the bigger challenge.
It is just over 100 days since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and the 18-year-old Hobart student and Hazara woman has spoken out about the impact it has had on the local Afghan community.
“Everyone was really sad and really scared because they have family in Afghanistan and they are all trying to get them out,” she told Ryk Goddard on ABC Radio Hobart.
“For the generation now who don’t know anything about the Taliban, everyone was just seeing their families scared and it was devastating.”
Arezo hasn’t lived in Afghanistan — she was born in Iran and came to Australia as a refugee, and has lived in Tasmania since 2015.
She can see the past trauma in her parents’ eyes.
“I understand how my parents feel, they tell their stories about how the Taliban took over 20 years ago and how they are back now,” she said.
“Everyone in the community was just so sad, it affected everyone.”
On Thursday night she spoke about her experiences at Hobart’s Reclaim the Night event which highlights the plight of women from various cross-sections of the community, including those living with a disability and Aboriginal women.
Giving a voice
Arezo has been busy studying for her final exams at Elizabeth College while trying to help members of the Afghan community navigate Australia’s complex immigration system.
“There are families here who don’t know how to speak or write English, and their children had to fill out forms or go and ask for help from someone else,” she said.
“I was dealing with study to prepare for exams but then I had to fill out forms for so many families.
“The chances of them getting accepted was like 1 per cent.”
Arezo knows there isn’t much she can do from Tasmania, but she is trying to give a voice to those in her homeland.
“I’m trying to advocate for my people,” she said.
“I’m trying to do everything I can for women in Afghanistan to get their voices heard at least.”
Communication with family in Afghanistan has been difficult due to a lack of internet and when her uncle died recently getting information was challenging.
“The only thing we can do from here is hope that Australia accepts more refugees from Afghanistan,” she said.
“We can pray for them to live another day, they are starving, they are hiding from the Taliban and running away.
“We can only hope for them to stay safe.”
Police force dreams
Arezo wants to be a police officer, a dream she has held since she was a young girl.
“If I could join the police here it would be the greatest thing ever,” she said.
“In Iran I didn’t see a lot of women police officers and I really wanted to be one.
“In my family there are no women who are police and I want to be the first one.”
She knows it’s something that would not happen under Taliban rule, and is grateful to be living in Australia.
“They stop women from having dreams,” she said.
“I would have not have gone to school and done exams and followed my dreams. They force women and children to marry their militants.
“Here it’s so different, right now I’m speaking out and in Afghanistan the women are not allowed to do that.”
Arezo wears a hijab and said she was initially scared in Australia.
“When I first came here I was a bit scared and thought people might attack [me],” she said.
“I don’t wear full coverage … my mum used to wear it when she came here and I was so scared for her and watching out for her.
“But now it’s fine, no one judges you and everyone understands, it’s really great in Hobart.”
Source: Thanks msn.com