Blue Mountains donation helps torture survivor in long road to recovery

Life has taken a significant turn for the better for refugee and torture survivor NashwanYousif, of Fairfield, thanks to a donation from Blue Mountains residents.

He was given a car just before Christmas, facilitated through the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and worked on by Blaxland High School’s industrial technology automotive students, guided by teacher ShaunHalden.

The students have tuned up several cars donated by Blue Mountains residents which have gone to refugees, and the latest came from ShereeMiller.

Mr Yousif came to Australia on a humanitarian visa in 2016 and lives at Fairfield with his wife Linda and three children.

He’s been working with counsellor PearlFernandes and others from the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, or STTARTS, at Fairfield for 18 months.

Mrs Fernandes said the family was so happy when they heard they’d been given a car that they started to sing.

Their neighbours had wondered what the celebration was, and whether someone was getting married.

In August 2014, Mr Yousif was kidnapped in Iraq and tortured by ISIS, sustaining nerve damage from electrocution, a broken pelvis and spinal injury.

His family thought he was dead and held a funeral for him. But he managed to escape thanks to one of the captors, whose family Mr Yousif had previously helped.

“The injury he sustained has left him with a chronic back problem as a result of the spinal problems,” Mrs Fernandes said.

“He can’t carry weight, so grocery shopping is a problem, and he’s not able to walk long distances.”

In 2014, he was kidnapped in Iraq and tortured by ISIS, getting nerve damage from electrocution, a broken pelvis and spinal injury. His family thought he was dead and held his funeral. But he escaped, thanks to a captor whose family he’d helped.

It was more than a 2-kilometre walk from home to counselling sessions at the STARTTS office and often Mr Yousif would be collected by staff midway so he could get to his appointments.

“He’s very grateful for the car and it will make such a very big difference to his life,” Mrs Fernandes said.

Mr Yousif had worked as a police officer in Iraq and he also defused bombs. He’s keen to get work here.

  • STTARTS: 152-168 The Horsley Drive, Carramar, 9646 6700 or stts-startts@health.nsw.gov.au or startts.org.au.

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