Shila Rahmani.

“God controls someone’s death, and controls someone’s living. I was not expecting it to be that bad. He was the love of my life, my partner, my everything.” Shila Rahmani came to Australia with two of her children in February of 2013, and has called Geelong home for just over 6 years.

Shila by Brandon Dellow

“I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. At the age of 13, I was married to my husband. When we married, we fled to Iran and lived there for 21 years. It was hard for my children to be educated because we were Afghans living in Iran. Everything was getting hard. To send my children to school, I had to pay double just because they were Afghans. If you were a refugee in Iran, you could not own anything, not even a bike for my children. The bike had to be registered to an Iranian person, not an Afghan.

“One day, my husband and one of my sons left Iran to go to another country to try and find a safe place for us to live. They were smuggled to Europe. But the two became separated. My son lived in Germany. I did not hear from my husband for 3 years. Only after three years, I received a phone call from a family friend that she had seen a picture of my husband in London and to come and collect the dead body.

“I did not find out all the details until after I finally arrived in Australia. The English Embassy in Tehran, Iran had burnt down so there was no way to contact England. I found out my husband was on the way to London, hanging underneath a lorry truck. There was my husband and two others hanging under it. It was winter. On the way to London, the truck stopped and my husband fell off, hitting his head on the road. The truck started moving, running over his bottom half, which resulted in him dying at the scene. One other man was run over the stomach, and the other one over the neck. Finding this out made me very sad and depressed and I did not want to leave my home.

“It was very hard for me to be the mum and the dad of the family. I went to UNHCR. They listened to my case, investigated and questioned people about us to check if my story was true. This process took about 10 months. Finally, we arrived in Australia on the 23rd of February 2013.

“Sitting on the plane to Australia, I had no idea what to expect. I only knew that education is important for me and my sons. Having a big house or having lots of food is not important, only education.”

Story and photo: Brandon Dellow