Forbidden love. A gorgeous young 17-year-old and 18-year-old fell in love over the internet. They met and got to know each other, their love blossomed and they vowed to get married. However, there was one serious, dangerous problem, they lived in Iraq and were from two different religions. A crime punishable by death. “We just wanted to be together and that was very powerful. I can’t believe it, but after years, we made it happen.” I’m interviewing the beautiful and determined Hadeel.
“Our families were very open-minded and kind. They didn’t object to us marrying but feared for our lives. Others in the same situation had lost their lives. You see our religion is printed on our ID cards and we have no say in it, it is related to what our great, great grandfathers’ religion was. Our families told us, if we really wanted to get married, we’d have to leave Iraq.
“We thought about what we’d been told but were so determined to be together. We had to finish our university courses first. I studied English Language and Literature. Suroor studied architecture. After graduating we got jobs and saved madly.
“It was only then, 9 years later, as responsible adults, that we went back to our families and told them again that we wanted to get married. (How’s that for commitment!) Their response was the same, they were afraid for us because it was so dangerous. Again, they told us ‘stay safe and leave the country.
“So, we did, we left. We went to Lebanon and searched for a church where they would marry us. We were all alone in that big church for the ceremony but we were so happy. We returned to our home in Iraq but couldn’t live together or let others know that we’d married. It was too dangerous. We were only there a couple of months when we made the decision that the only way we could be together, would be to leave our families, our homes and everything behind. Still today, my extended family don’t even know where I am or why I left.
“We went to Jordan and were given protection as refugees by UNHCR. We couldn’t work there, so we used up a lot of our savings. We spent 18 months trying to emigrate. Then, finally, a new visa program became available, it was a paid visa through a community support program. Diversitat in Geelong sponsored us as an APO (approved proposing organisation) and that is how we came to Geelong in November 2018. For this visa you had to be between 18-50, speak English, have completed higher education and have an employment pathway.
“Suroor works as an Estimator in a building company and I work part-time at Diversitat doing administration. I also volunteer at genU in the Learning and Development Department. I’d love to find fulltime work as we find it quite expensive here. My real passion is photography and you can find my work on Instagram at HS Stories Photography.
“We had to leave everyone and everything to be together. We still miss our family terribly. You don’t realise how lucky you are here to have the freedom that you do. We love Geelong and feel blessed that this is now our home. We love the sense of community here, the feeling of the place. We want to embrace life here and contribute to the community.
“We are happy now and this has made us stronger.”
Humans in Geelong are excited to announce that Hadeel has joined our team of volunteers.
Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photo: supplied