Fam­ily set­tling into town


Shepparton News - - NEWS - By Rhi­an­non Tuffield

To mark Refugee Week from June 18 to 24, The News is run­ning a se­ries of sto­ries on im­mi­grants now liv­ing in Shep­par­ton to cel­e­brate their con­tri­bu­tion.

To­day, we tell the story of Ab­dul­lah Naveed.

It was from the Ghazni Prov­ince near Kabul where Ab­dul­lah Naveed set off on foot through moun­tains and freez­ing tem­per­a­tures as fighter planes bombed from above.

Only a young man when he left Afghanistan, it was al­ready a coun­try which had been on the re­ceiv­ing end of so much vi­o­lence it was a mir­a­cle it con­tin­ued to fight.

Mr Naveed and his peo­ple, the Hazaras, of­ten felt the worst of the vi­o­lence, con­sid­ered out­siders and marginalised in their own coun­try even be­fore the Soviet in­va­sion which sparked on­go­ing trauma.

It was an at­tempt to find sta­bil­ity and safety that led the young Afghan to Pak­istan, where he met his wife Shakilla, also an Afghan, and started a fam­ily.

But Pak­istan sat at a knife’s edge, be­com­ing an­other coun­try which spawned in­tol­er­ance for an eth­nic mi­nor­ity that had never been ac­cepted.

Mr Naveed said the Hazara’s Asi­atic fea­tures and lan­guage set them apart from other Afghans and their Shia faith had been a cen­tral cause of dis­sent within some po­lit­i­cal par­ties and ex­trem­ists.

Mr Naveed’s four chil­dren have spent most of their lives in Pak­istan, only liv­ing in Kabul for five months this year, be­fore they were re­united with their fa­ther in Aus­tralia, af­ter be­ing sep­a­rated for three years.

It has been three weeks since Mr Naveed was re­united with his fam­ily in Shep­par­ton, where they are now worlds away from two coun­tries where they could never feel safe.

‘‘Ev­ery day for three years I feared for my chil­dren and wife’s life,’’ Mr Naveed said.

‘‘I was most wor­ried when they were in Kabul. I was call­ing them not to go out, to stay in­side the house be­cause now you can’t go out on the street, it is not safe.’’

In Afghanistan to­day, re­li­gious ex­trem­ist groups have gained ground, the Haqqani net­work is re­spon­si­ble for at­tacks in ma­jor cities, and Daesh (ISIS) has claimed a se­ries of at­tacks tar­get­ing Shia mus­lims.

The num­ber of armed con­flicts last year reached the high­est level in 10 years, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions, with civil­ians suf­fer­ing the most.

In Pak­istan, ten­sions last year in­creased and thou­sands of Afghans were forced to f lee in the mid­dle of vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment.

Mr Naveed had lit­tle hope for his home coun­try, with many turn­ing to crime through brain­wash­ing or a need to sur­vive.

‘‘For the last 40 years in Afghanistan peo­ple have been killed, they have been de­struc­ted, and it’s easy to not be en­thu­si­as­tic about its fu­ture,’’ Mr Naveed said.

‘‘If a fam­ily mem­ber leaves the house over there, there is no know­ing if they will come back, or if you send your child to school, will they come home safe? Ev­ery day peo­ple are pray­ing.’’

Since ar­riv­ing in Aus­tralia three weeks ago, the fam­ily is set­tling in and wait­ing to at­tend school.

The three old­est — Ba­tool Fizza, Ali Farhad and Zahra Manahil — all want to be doc­tors, mir­ror­ing a pro­fes­sion their fa­ther once ex­celled in.

In the quiet, peace­ful streets of Shep­par­ton, it is easy for the fam­ily to feel any­thing is pos­si­ble.

‘‘My chil­dren have been sev­ered from their fam­ily, from their city and from their ed­u­ca­tion, and our fam­ily has suf­fered too much,’’ Mr Naveed said.

‘‘Now I wish for them to con­tinue their stud­ies, I want for them to be well ed­u­cated, and I wish one day we can do some­thing for this coun­try, as it has done for me and my fam­ily.’’

Pic­ture: Holly Curtis

Fam­ily re­united: Ali Farhad Naveed, 17, Ba­tool Fizza Naveed, 18, Ali Fayyaz Naveed, 12, Ab­dul­lah Naveed, Shakilla Naveed and Zahra Manahil Naveed, 16, are ready to start their new life in Aus­tralia.

Pic­ture: Mu­sadeq Sadeq

Hor­ri­ble: Afghan se­cu­rity men and NATO sol­diers at the scene of a mil­i­tant at­tack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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