Tears to joy in a new homeland

Best reward: Awham Kadhim of Fairfield West says she feels that getting to live in Australia is God's way of compensating her for some very difficult experiences in her life in Iraq and Jordan. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Best reward: Awham Kadhim of Fairfield West says she feels that getting to live in Australia is God's way of compensating her for some very difficult experiences in her life in Iraq and Jordan. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

AWHAM Kadhim says words cannot describe the happiness she felt when she heard she would be moving to Australia.

"I was jumping up and down with excitement," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed and happy."

Ms Kadhim, an Iraqi-born Fairfield West resident, said she had been on her way to a friend's house when the Australian Embassy phoned.

"I was in a lift and when they called and when they said my application was accepted I couldn't breathe and my heart stopped.

"I really felt like I was reborn.

"The neighbours thought there was something wrong and they came outside and I was so happy and screaming 'I'm an Aussie now! I'm an Aussie now!' "

The mother of three teenagers said she felt that the opportunity to move to Australia was God's way of compensating her for the tough life she had lived since losing her husband in 2003.

Her husband died in an accident when the truck he was driving went off a bridge, leaving her alone in her adopted homeland of Jordan with three children under the age of three.

Ms Kadhim had moved to Jordan from Iraq in 1995 seeking a better life.

"Life in Iraq at that time was very difficult. My brothers were arrested and put in jail and there were sanctions in place, so everyone was struggling.

"I left for Jordan and got married and had three children."

Ms Kadhim gets very teary when she speaks of her husband's death at just 29.

"I was very in love with him and it was very hard to be left without him, with three young children."

After his death she knew she could not go back to Iraq and applied for a humanitarian visa.

"I didn't care where I would go at that stage. I just knew that I couldn't go back to Iraq. There would be no support there for a single mother and there wasn't any support for me in Jordan either."

She considered paying a people smuggler to take her to Australia.

"I had heard that single mothers were treated very well in Australia.

"I travelled to Thailand to see if I could come to Australia that way.

"But at that time several boats sank on their way and I did not want to risk the safety of my children."

Settling in to Australia once she and her children were granted residency in 2010 was not without its challenges.

"It's a completely different world here, with a different language and culture, so it can be difficult to adjust, but I am so grateful to be living here and for my children to have the opportunities they have here."

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