Tamana was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. At 16 years old, Tamana and her family fled the capital due to ongoing threats from the Taliban.
Tamana and her family were in Pakistan for four years before coming to Australia. They had to stay in Pakistan for longer than expected because the Australian visa processing times were so long. As Tamana described, ‘words fail to express the feelings at that time, it was very frightening’.
In Pakistan, there is a lack of opportunities for people that are not citizens. Tamana couldn’t start studying at a university or even get a job, so she decided she’d study online courses. Her passion is education. She believes that the only way we can make enduring global change is through better education.
Tamana will never forget the day she came to Australia, 23rd of March 2018. She was almost 20 years old. Tamana had seen pictures of the Opera House when she was young and would often say to her mother, ‘I want to go to Australia’. Her dream finally came true.
Tamana knew once she got to Australia, there was going to be many challenges to overcome as she was stepping into a new country, a new culture, and a new environment. Tamana stated, ‘I am proud of how far I have come, but I am still struggling in other aspects. I want to fit myself into every facet of Australian life’.
When asked if the label ‘refugee’ is something that Tamana finds restrictive or empowering (or both), she said, ‘In all walks of life there are people that have different opinions. Some people discriminate a lot, whilst others don’t’. She goes on to explain that some people have made her feel less worthy because she came to Australia as a refugee, whilst others find it very brave.
Tamana doesn’t like the question, ‘where are you from?’. She studies a Bachelor of Business Management and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland and often meets new people. When the question is asked, she replies that she is from the Gold Coast. People proceed to ask, ‘oh no, but where are you from originally?’. Tamana says that she is openminded about it, but there are so many other ways the question can be asked. Rephrasing and thinking about how the question would feel if someone was asking it to you is important.
For Tamana, Australia is her country and a part of who she is. She doesn’t feel like a migrant and feels completely included in Australian society. She works in Australia, studies in Australia, and pays taxes in Australia. It’s her country and she is proud of that.
Tamana advocates for more education around refugees and cultural awareness within Australian society. Tamana knows how tough (and brave) it is to leave your home, your culture, and your language. She and her family had to start their life again from scratch. We should never make refugees feel like they are not part of Australian society. For Tamana, lack of knowledge around cultures and religion needs to be addressed.
Refugees have a right to international protection. Seeking asylum is a human right.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Tamana!