Najma and Mahdi Abbas

Home is where I can learn.

Najma’s journey to Australia marked a significant turning point in her life. Growing up in Afghanistan, she faced severe limitations on her education and career prospects simply because she was a girl.

“As a girl in Afghanistan, you don’t have too much opportunity to pursue studies, pursue a career,” Najma explains.

For her and her sisters, the dream of a better, safer life was out of reach in their homeland.

Determined to change their destiny, Najma’s family made the difficult decision to leave Afghanistan.

“The decision was we’ll go and find somewhere that’s a lot safer and there’s a better life and a safer life.”

They arrived in Australia, a place where Najma and her sisters could finally envision a future full of possibility.

For Najma, finding home meant finding a place where she could be free to pursue her dreams without fear.

Home is where I have a voice.

Najma and her younger brother Madhi are two from a family of ten. They were 19 and 15 years old when they arrived in Australia, having lived in Malaysia for four years after leaving Afghanistan.

Mahdi Abbas considers his journey to life in Australia to have been a bit easier than his sister’s. He was in high school when they arrived in Australia, where he was quickly able to set about finishing his high school studies.

He went on to complete a degree in International Studies and Commerce at Deakin University, and while he is currently a Union Representative, he dreams of a career in politics.

“Coming from Afghanistan, working people don’t have a voice. I want to bring a voice to my people,” Mahdi says.


Home is where I pursue my dreams.

In Australia, Najma found the opportunities she had longed for.

“I had the opportunity in Australia to study, to go to university, and have a career.”

“AMES supports you. They send you to organizations like SMRC, who can help you with employment, they can come to English classes, they can come to social programs, for men and women.”

With SMRC’s help, Najma not only advanced her education but also found a career that aligned with her passion for helping others. She now works on SMRC’s family violence program, addressing a deeply stigmatized issue within her culture.

“It’s a taboo subject in our culture, in every culture, not only in Afghan culture. It’s a thing that no one talks about it.”

Najma is dedicated to breaking this silence and encouraging others to speak up. She’s also committed to ensuring that others are given the change to obtain an education and to pursue their dreams, as she’s been able to do.

“As long as you have hope, you can do anything and you can become a person who can work towards freeing yourself but also freeing others from every barrier that stops you from having hope but also stops you from achieving what you need to achieve.”

Home is support.

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