“I was just 14 when I was forced to become the third wife of a 25-year-old Taliban soldier. He cruelly beat me regularly. He’d be away for long periods but this was no reprieve, as his parents, who we lived with, were just as cruel. I knew from the start of that marriage, I had to escape.” Samiya grew up in Afghanistan. Her loving family couldn’t prevent the marriage because they had been threatened with death.

“My sons were born when I was 16, then 18. It broke my heart to see that the girls in our village couldn’t attend school, so I wrote to the Government asking if I could start a school and teach them. Miraculously they allowed myself and friends to teach girls in 4 rooms of the local mosque. My heart exploded when 120 girls eagerly turned up to learn.

“But my situation in my marriage was so horrific that I couldn’t stay. I had no other choice than to put my two darling sons aged 1 and 3 into an orphanage so that I could escape to start a new, safe life for us.

“My husband died a week after I divorced him but his father hunted me down, insisting that I marry my ex-husband’s younger brother or else he’d kill me. I was so scared, I had to run.

“I escaped to India, taking my sons with me, then aged 6 and 8. The three of us lived with a friend in one tiny room for 4 years but at least we were safe.

“Finally, I was accepted to immigrate to Australia and in 2020, the three of us moved to Geelong, just before the first lockdown.”

This didn’t deter Samiya, she wisely used this time to improve her English via online courses and speaks 5 languages now.

“In 2022 I lost my mum. This greatly affected me. I’m the eldest of 8 and since arriving here I’ve sent money regularly back home to help. My eldest brother was quite high up in Government so the Taliban attacked our house, meaning to kill him. Luckily, he escaped. All of my siblings are now scattered all over the world. I’ve put in the paperwork to hopefully bring my father safely here.

“My sons are now 22 and 24, both working. I’m so proud of them.

“I know I am safe in Australia. When I saw lots of women working, driving and being free, I knew; this is my country.”

Samiya is so grateful to be here, she’s studying accounting and business as she hopes to start her own business selling home-cooked Afghan food. She needs to learn to drive and is seeking a kind, generous person to help her achieve this goal. (DM us if you can help).

We wish this determined, inspirational woman the best of luck, the bowl of chickpea and kidney bean curry she shared with me was absolutely delicious!