03 August 2013

Reuniting an Iraqi refugee with his family

Amid all the utterly depressing drivel about refugees that we get from the major political parties, and the shameless cruelties either side of politics is prepared to deliver when they are in office, or promise to deliver in order to obtain office, it is worth remembering that all these policy theatrics relate to real people, with real stories, who have faced real horrors and who face real difficulties.

My young friend Widyan Al Ubudy has drawn my attention to the story of an Iraqi refugee whom she has come to know, and whom she is trying to help. After almost drowning, and enduring four years in detention at Villawood, he has finally achieved refugee status and visas for his family, who remain in Iraq. He is so close to a resolution of his situation, but simply does not have the financial resources to bring his family here. So Widyan is trying to help by conducting a fundraiser for him.

I repost his story directly as Widyan has recounted it on the Facebook Page she has established for the fundraiser, in the hope that there might be kindly souls out there who would be happy to contribute, as I have.

Facebook post by Widyan Al Ubudy

Salam Alaykom,

Over a year ago I met a man by the name of Nasr. He was an Iraqi refugee detained at Villawood detention centre. I met him through the volunteer work I do at Villawood detention centre on Sundays.

Nasr escaped Iraq in 2009 after rebels attacked his home.

Nasr owned his own business and was well off, but after the U.S led invasion his livelihood vanished after becoming an easy target for looters and gangs who took away his business, crippling his family’s future.

Coupled with government inaction, corruption and death threats from gangs- Nasr lost everything.

He was forced to move his family to the border of Iraq to protect them and he was coerced into fleeing the country entirely.

This journey required Nasr to borrow money to cover the cost of people smugglers as he did not have the appropriate travel documentation and the government would not grant him the necessary means.

When arriving to Australia by boat after a long and dangerous journey including almost drowning, Nasr was locked up in Villawood detention centre for four years.

Nasr suffers from serious physical mental health conditions including severe depression. When I met Nasr the guard told me it was the first time he heard Nasr speak after two years of being around him.

I don’t know why Nasr chose to speak to me and share his story, perhaps it was because I was Iraqi and spoke his native tongue, perhaps it was because I was one of the few people who had asked him ‘how are you?’ in over four years.

Either way Nasr grew to become a dear friend to me and for those who know me personally know the significance that this family has had on my life.

Late last year Nasr was granted legitimate refugee status by the Australian government.

After moving to Perth, Nasr applied to also bring his family down to Australia.

We knew this wouldn’t be an easy journey especially because he wasn’t allowed to work and was living off government benefits due to his refugee status restrictions.

We endured a long six-month battle with the government and private lawyers.

We hit a wall with the travel documentation for his family. This forced Nasr to travel back to Iraq but was only allowed to travel as far as Ebril, Iraq’s fourth largest city in an attempt to personally organize his family’s appropriate travel documentation that the Australian Immigration department required.

After a difficult time emotionally and physically Nasr and I were successful in helping land his family a temporary VISA in Australia.

However, a challenge remains.

Nasr is in a financial dilemma. He and I both invested large amounts of money on lawyer fees and charges, we require another $6000 to cover the cost of final fees and tickets for his wife and three children to travel to Australia.

Nasr remains in Ebril and won’t leave Iraq without his family.

I don’t know why God introduced Nasr and his family into my life, but since he did I have formed a close bond with his wife and children- speaking to them on a weekly basis.

I have become the only personal support network they have as his wife comes from a broken family and majority of Nasr’s immediate family was lost to the war.

I know God gave me this challenge for a reason and Alhamdullah he granted me with the skills and knowledge to help Nasr, but my job isn’t yet complete.

I will be taking care of half the $6000.

Leaving us short $3000.

Nasr is trying to raise money in Erbil and I am aiming to do the same here through this fundraiser and meeting with various government and non-government organisations.

I ask you to help me in raising $3000 to finally bring them to their new home Insh’Allah. I dislike asking for donations, but this is beyond me.

If you are unable to donate you can still help by making duaa that his family arrive here safely to Insh’Allah begin their new life.

Below are my bank details please specify the donation as ‘Nasr donation’

BANK: Commonwealth Bank
Account name: Widyan Al ubudy
BSB: 062000

If you would like a receipt please notify me via email on wi.dyan@hotmail.com

Also if you require more information on his situation or simply want more details on his story then please do not hesitate to email me and I am more then happy to provide you with all the information you are seeking Insh’Allah.

Please be sure to help share this fundraiser with your networks.

Insh'Allah I will update the status of the situation everytime there is progress Insh'Allah.

Thank you.

Widyan Al ubudy.

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