Zahra Panahi

SA Refugee Week 2019: a speech by Year 12 student, Zahra


Hello everyone, my name is Zahra and I am studying Year 12.

I’m here to talk about my family’s journey, from Afghanistan to Iran then to Australia. This issue is important to me since I am an Afghan, I am an immigrant, I am a Muslim, and I am the daughter of a refugee.

My parents fled from Afghanistan to Iran in 1978 when Taliban took control of Afghanistan. My Mum was 8 months pregnant when she packed up a suitcase, not knowing what the future held for her. They had to leave not because they wanted to, but they had no choice. They didn’t even graduate from school; they have been displaced by war and persecution in their country.

They rebuilt their lives, but they didn’t become Iranian citizens. I was born in Iran, so I have never seen my country, Afghanistan, the broken hearts and broken families who had lost their relatives during their journey.

My father passed away 12 years ago in an accident. After 12 years working and managing family alone, my mother decided to move and find a new home for her children, to ensure their future in Australia. Being here, learning the language, coping with the culture and beliefs, most importantly leaving relatives was hard for my mum as a refugee who has experienced a lot since her teenage years.

It was hard for me too to be apart from my sister … and it is still hard. My mother did not have the education and knowledge to pass to me, but she ensured my future by giving me the opportunity in here, Australia.

Refugees are not only the most vulnerable people on earth but also they are the most resilient people.

In the future. I hope the way that people look at refugee and feel sorry for them would change because they are just ordinary people like you, they are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, they are survivors – they are my family. 

Thank you.


Year 12 Student