In 2000 Raza fled Afghanistan…now he has a Social Science degree
In 2004, 27 year old Ahmed Raza, a Temporary Protection Visa holder (TPV) , took part in the photographic exhibition ‘Through Our Eyes’, which evolved in the feisty, caring atmosphere of the Fitzroy Learning Network (FLN) where Raza was once a computer student.
The exhibition was an attempt by a group of young Australians to make a difference for some of the refugees. It was a human gesture – they knew the project would not ’save the day’, but they also knew they would come to understand the situation free of journalistic and political hype and could pass this knowledge on to others.
Today, 6 years after he escaped the Taliban, who killed his two brothers, Raza has completed his undergrad education – a Social Science degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
What are his plans now?
Raza has enrolled for an Honours degree next year but is currently looking for a job as he is the sole support for his Mum and Dad. If he can land a job he will defer for one year.
In the future Raza would like to work for an Non Government Organisation helping refugees like himself.
Raza keeps in touch with the FLN community via email, and when he let them know recently about his new degree he spoke of a Persian saying ‘that the person who travels is a king’ ….and that he now truly understands this saying after his emotional journey from wartorn Afghanistan to Australia, after having met ‘several beautiful people and having built genuine and real friendship with many of them.’
For Raza, we make friends to share our happiness and sorrows and to get help and good advice. He hopes to maintain his warm relations with the friends he has made at FLN.
Raza says he became involved and still is involved with the FLN community because of the support and friendship offered. He says he still goes and ‘cuts up onions and tomatoes’ for FLN’s wonderful community meals.
Anne Horrigan-Dixon, the FLN coordinator at the time, has been honoured several times for her leadership in FLN’s practical support of refugees. FLN’s recognized success in this area has led to a collaborative effort with RMIT’s Centre for Applied Social Research to produce a model of best practice for providing support and assistance to refugees which can be used in other Adult Community Education Centres in Victoria.
About the ‘Through Our Eyes’ project
After investigating several ideas to show their support for the refugees, the project team found that many had actually been acted on, but gone unreported – mainstream media is not really interested in good news stories. The idea of turning the situation around and giving the TPVs disposable cameras so they could tell their own story grew. This would be a first! The project was named ‘Through our eyes’.
The TPVs were really touched to see that some Australians saw them as more than just a number or a statistic, so they gladly gave their personal details and their time to help with the project. The depth of emotion was marked by a Christmas gift to the team leader from a devout Islamist – a Christian nativity scene.
With Australia’s current skills shortage, doesn’t Raza’s achievement make you wonder at the untapped potential and human waste occurring in Detention Centres? In a few years Raza has gone from a non-English speaking TPV to graduating from uni to becoming a Permanent Resident capable of making a real contribution to Australian society.