“I grew up not knowing or seeing the stars. I was only three years old when my family had to flee war torn Iraq. We left our home in Baghdad, we were split from family and friends. We fled to Jordan and lived all together in one small basement room, in very cramped living conditions. It wasn’t safe to go out at night so I never saw the night sky.” Farah Al-Dabbas, 23 tells us her story to conclude Refugee Week 2018 #withrefugees
“It was a tough life. My parents worked illegally as cooks so they could put my brother and I through school. You didn’t have a name, you were a number, a case number. We’d been registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and added to the long list of people seeking safety in a new country. Finally, we found we could travel to Malaysia without a visa but we had to leave my father behind.
“Malaysia turned out to be false promises. Eventually my Father joined us. We knew that we’d have to move again to find a home.
“We were so excited when we found that our application to Australia was granted but then devastated to find it was just for myself and my mum. My mother didn’t want to leave her only son and husband behind. She had to think about this very carefully and finally decided to take the risk as it seemed to be the only way.
“I cannot express the happiness when we were at last reunited a year later, in 2016, in Australia. After living 17 years as refugees, my family is finally together in a safe, welcoming community. This is when I felt my life had really started.
“I work as a student support worker at Diversitat. I give back to those who are in the position I was in, by working with refugees and migrants. My brother Fahad is studying commerce at Deakin. My parents, Abdul Kareem and Siham Al-Naseri volunteer at a local op shop. They continue their love of cooking and cooked a magnificent Iraqi feast for Diversitat’s fundraising dinner on Friday 22 June. We thank Diversitat for the support and opportunities they have provided us.
“Now, I marvel at the simple things; the night sky, the stars, the smell of eucalyptus, being able to go to the bank and have my own set of keys to my own home. I’m proud to live in the North of Geelong and to call Geelong our home.”
Story: Jacqui Bennet Photo: Supplied. First selfie of Farah’s family finally all together again.