Welcome To Australia – Ali’s story – Helping Others Makes Me
Words by Rachel Trevarthen
Ali left Iran when he was 21 years old in 2012. He came on a boat via Indonesia with his family because in his words ‘there was no other way.’
His parents had been jailed and tortured by the Iranian government for their political beliefs and they needed to find somewhere safe and protected. Government officials would come to their house for no reason, search the place and tear it down.
Ali (not his real name) speaks to SIBW about that time.
“We weren’t thinking about where we were going, we just wanted to go somewhere safe. We went towards Indonesia and we just wanted somewhere to get protection. We didn’t pick Australia but it was the only option available and we were told (incorrectly) it was an easy and legal trip to take.”
Since arriving in Australia Ali says he has had ‘so many different lives.’
“In the beginning we were so happy because we were in a safe place. But then we were in limbo for a long time and we couldn’t do anything such as work or study so this was hard. We volunteered and did different things to keep ourselves occupied.”
Living in limbo as someone awaiting asylum is a double-edged sword, on the one hand relieving and on the other unsettling.
“It’s hard for asylum seekers here to find a way to keep themselves busy and they live with the ongoing fear they might get deported back to their country. When you can’t achieve a relaxed state of mind, it’s easy to get depressed and even suicidal.”
Ali is grateful and relieved to have received his work rights a month ago. He is now working in a café for his cousin and looking for a proper job. He also wants to study but this is too expensive at present. He is doing some part-time study and saving every dollar to afford this.
In terms of his future plans Ali is unsure.
“I want to feel relaxed and live a life I can trust. After three years of waiting I now have some work rights and I’m waiting to hear back on how long we can stay in Australia. If Iran were safe, we’d already be back there but this is not the case.”
Despite all the challenges and adversities of having to leave his home and his country, Ali says that he finds inspiration in his family and they hope they’ll stay protected and live without fear.
“You can be dead in this life and be negative or you can be the other way. Although there are many stresses being in our position, for me at least there is something to do. I can speak English and so I’ve been doing translation for people here for free. I’ve also been volunteering with Welcome to Australia. Helping others makes me happy.”