Afghan Hazara women Sani Zahra said she feels "privileged" to be able to help others in her Hazara community at a critical time through the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC).
The Navitas English student is part of CMRC'sSharing Circles project that provides support to Afghan women dealing with grief and trauma triggered by the current situation in their homeland following the Taliban takeover.
The 21-year-old, who arrived from in Australia from Pakistan in May this year, connects with group members over the phone and runs two online sessions each week via Zoom. She said many of the women were struggling with poor mental health due to isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown, while also dealing with grief and trauma.
"I feel privileged to be providing this support to the community during these most challenging times," Sani said.
"Being from the same background (Hazara) I have good understanding of the culture and the current issues affecting them. I have a passion to help others and my listening skills and empathy has helped me to support them.
"The project has been helpful to break the social isolation of the women from the Afghan community but, at times, it is very emotional and is very difficult to hear their stories, disappointments, and hopelessness.
"The current situation in Afghanistan and the events are particularly distressing to members of Australia's Afghan community who are hearing directly from family members and friends about the terrible violence within the country.
"They are worried about the safety of their families in danger overseas. Most of them are new arrivals and do not have family in Australia and need a safe space to share their feelings."
Sani said she was grateful for being able to work in Australia, in contrast to the situation being faced by female citizens in Afghanistan.
"Especially as a woman myself, belonging to a Hazara ethnic minority who have historically been targeted by extremist groups such as the Taliban, I cannot begin to imagine what the future holds for Afghans and how much of a say or freedom the general public will have in their daily lives under a Taliban-run country," she said.
"Some of the participants in my Sharing Circles have shared stories where their family members have had to flee the country leaving all their belongings there to save their lives. There is one group member whose family member has been kidnapped and she has almost lost hope of him returning. All of us in the group are concerned with the situation in Afghanistan but we try to console each other in the session."
Sani is currently enrolled in Level 2 of the Certificate in Spoken and Written English at Fairfield Navitas and wants to enrol in a community services course to "continue helping the vulnerable members of the community".
Navitas Stakeholder Engagement Manager Farzana Farzana notified Sani about the role at CMRC and gave her the support to apply for the role. She said her classes with "the best" trainer Taraneh Sadeghian also played a big part in building her confidence to apply for the job.
"I would like to thank Farzana for introducing me to the CMRC, and supporting me to apply for this role," Sani said.
"I also would like to thank Priscella Mabor from CMRC for giving me the opportunity to help my community members during our greatest hour of need. I feel like I'm doing my bit for Afghanistan even though I'm thousands of miles away by providing support for the Afghan ladies in my group sessions."
- If you, or anyone you know, needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.