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Sani’s first job in Australia helps fellow Hazara women

By Fiona West | October 1, 2021
Woman wearing headscarf smiling at camera

A Navitas English student says she is grateful to have found a job helping others in her Hazara community at a critical time through the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC).

Sani Zahra, 21, who arrived in Australia in May this year, was encouraged by Navitas to apply for the contract role that provides support to Afghan women dealing with grief and trauma triggered by the current situation in their homeland.

The CMRC’s Sharing Circles project aims to provide a safe space for these women to share their feelings and intimate struggles without fear of prejudice or judgment.

“I feel privileged to be providing this support to the community during these most challenging times,” Sani said.

“Being from the same background (Hazara) I have good understanding of the culture and the current issues affecting them. I have a passion to help others and my listening skills and empathy has helped me to support them.”

As a facilitator, Sani connects with group members over the phone and runs two online sessions each week via Zoom. She said many of the women were struggling with poor mental health due to isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown, while also dealing with grief and trauma and trying to be supportive wives, mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters.

“The project has been helpful to break the social isolation of the women from the Afghan community but, at times, it is very emotional and is very difficult to hear their stories, disappointments, and hopelessness,” Sani said.

“The current situation in Afghanistan and the events are particularly distressing to members of Australia’s Afghan community who are hearing directly from family members and friends about the terrible violence within the country.

“They are worried about the safety of their families in danger overseas. Most of them are new arrivals and do not have family in Australia and need a safe space to share their feelings.”

Sani arrived in Australia from Pakistan in May under a spouse visa and is currently enrolled in Level 2 of the Certificate in Spoken and Written English at Fairfield Navitas.

Navitas Stakeholder Engagement Manager Farzana Farzana was notified about the role at the CMRC and thought Sani would be the perfect fit.

“Farzana informed me of the position and provided support to apply,” Sani said.

“She has also been supporting me to understand Australian workplace culture, communication and the requirements of a contract work.”

Sani said her classes with “the best” trainer Taraneh Sadeghian had also played a big part in motivating her and building her confidence to apply for the job.

She said she was grateful for being able to work in Australia, in contrast to the situation being faced by female citizens in Afghanistan, now living under Taliban rule.

“Especially as a woman myself, belonging to a Hazara ethnic minority who have historically been targeted by extremist groups such as the Taliban, I cannot begin to imagine what the future holds for Afghans and how much of a say or freedom the general public will have in their daily lives under a Taliban-run country,” she said.

“Some of the participants in my Sharing Circles have shared stories where their family members have had to flee the country leaving all their belongings there to save their lives. There is one group member whose family member has been kidnapped and she has almost lost hope of him returning. All of us in the group are concerned with the situation in Afghanistan but we try to console each other in the session.”

Sani has continued to study at Navitas English during the pandemic and while working, with a goal to attain Certificate 3 in Spoken and Written English and enrol in a community services course “so I can continue helping the vulnerable members of the community”.

“I would like to thank Farzana for introducing me to the CMRC, and supporting me to apply for this role,” Sani said.

“I also would like to thank Priscella Mabor from CMRC for giving me the opportunity to help my community members during our greatest hour of need. I feel like I’m doing my bit for Afghanistan even though I’m thousands of miles away by providing support for the Afghan ladies in my group sessions.”

If you, or anyone you know, need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Notice: On 1 December 2021, Navitas English changed its name to Navitas Skilled Futures. This name change reflects our programs, the focus of our work, and our positive impact on the people we serve. Find out more here.

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