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Refugees relish true freedom in Fairfield

By Fiona West | November 24, 2022

One year after arriving in Australia from Afghanistan, we speak to two Navitas Skilled Futures Fairfield students about their settlement experience and hopes for the future.

Sardar Ibrhami says his wife and four daughters will enjoy freedom and opportunity in Australia.

With three young daughters and a fourth on the way it is little wonder Afghan refugee Sardar Ibrhami is counting his daily blessings.

One year after fleeing Afghanistan due to the Taliban takeover he is “so happy” to have had the chance to settle his family into a country where they are free, safe, and his girls will be treated as equals.

Sardar is one of more than 200 Afghan students who have joined Navitas Skilled Futures since July last year, more than one third of whom are enrolled in the Adult Migrant English Program at Fairfield College.

The 36-year-old Auburn resident was working at the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan as a plumber when the unexpected takeover occurred.

“I’m lucky because I was working at the Australian Embassy and every single person who worked there came as a group to Australia,” Sardar said through NSF Bilingual Support Officer Frozan Joyan.

“At first it was strange for me and I didn’t like it. I had to leave behind everything I knew. But after a few months, I think I’m lucky to be here. Especially with three daughters, and another girl on the way, I am so happy they will have a good future here. Because of the Taliban there is nothing for them in Afghanistan, and it would have been very dangerous if we had stayed.”

Sardar’s daughters, aged 8, 11 and 16, settled well into Australian life, he said. They loved going to school, making new friends and having freedom. “They also like having things they didn’t have at home, like phones, laptops and iPads,” he laughed.

“The freedom is the best thing about Australia,” Sardar said.

“You can go outside at night and not be worried about what is going to happen to you; that you might be killed. It is true freedom.”

Sardar has settled in an area near some of his former Afghan workmates and they enjoy catching up with their families on weekends.

“But I want to learn more about the culture of Australia and meet more people of Australia,” he said.

“I am enjoying learning English at Navitas, and I want to work as a plumber in Australia but first need to improve my English and get qualifications. I worked for eight years in the Australian Embassy, but here because I don’t know the language or have the license I have to start again. So this is what I am doing.”

Marina Omari dreams of speaking fluent English, getting a job and, especially, driving a car!

Marina Omari, 38, is also from Kabul, and arrived just over one year ago.

Living in Guildford with her mother, sisters and brother, she has a positive outlook for her future and is enjoying opportunities she would never have had in Afghanistan.

“I love to go to the beauty parlour and I can’t wait to learning to drive,” Marina said.

“Sometimes I dream that I have a car and I am driving. It is so exciting.”

Marina said she found the transition to Australian life “not that difficult”.

She loves to study and is also currently learning English full-time through the AMEP at Navitas Skilled Futures Fairfield. She has also just enrolled in the English for Driving short course.

“In Kabul I was just looking after the home, doing homecare, but here I can do something I want,” she said.

“First of all, I want to learn to speak and write good English and second, I want to find a good job.”

Marina said she does not mind what kind of work she does as long as it is “a happy job”.

And what does she like most about Australia?

“Everything!” she smiled.

“Everything here is good: the people, the law, the weather, everything!”

“I have made friends from other countries, and with my teacher and Navitas staff. Everyone is helping me and I am so grateful and so happy.”

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