Interview: The Reich Stuff
Economics: Crime and Punishment
Environment: Beyond The Wedge
International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Politics: Labo(u)r Day
Human Rights: Arabian Lights
History: Labour's Titan
Review: Foxy Fiasco
Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
The Locker Room
What’s In a Name?
Let's Start A New Party
When Roohullah Nedaee heard the Taliban were coming to his house to kill him, he knew it was time to move. He didn't want his mother to see his body hanging from a lamp post and convinced his father to hand over the $27,000 demanded by a smuggler.
Nedaee was stuffed in the back of a ute and rushed out of Kabul. At every checkpoint bearded fanatics waving AK47's searched the truck's load - getting closer and closer to the discovery that would have ended his life.
"They wouldn't have buried my body, I would have been food for the crows and wild dogs," Nedaee says.
Finally, after getting into the high mountains, he was hidden in a mud hut for two weeks - not allowed to ask where he was or where he was being taken. Eventually, after a treck through the snow at the top of the world, he was handed a ticket and flown from one strange city to another till he was on the other side of the globe.
After landing in an Asian country, he now believes was Indonesia, he was put on a boat that set sail for Australia - and freedom.
Three years later, Nedaee lives in Lidcombe. He has a great job as an apprentice sparkie, good mates and even a bit of spare time to watch TV.
On weekends he takes swimming lessons at Lidcombe pool - unheard of in his land-locked homeland.
He works at Electro Group - an ETU sponsored employment company. And he's happy to be there. Though he had electical qualifications from Afghanistan they meant nothing here.
He couldn't get an apprenticeship because he was ineligible for the $9000 government subsidy employers get for training young workers.
Electro Group CEO Norm Cahill said he was impressed by Nedaee's attitude and abilities from the outset and was prepared to take a chance on him. "We even helped him out a bit with text book costs - he's a battler and we wanted to give him an opportunity," Cahill said.
Electro Group, which places apprentices with 'host employers', has Roohullah working near the airport at Mascot, where his foreman praises his work ethic. Life, now, is pretty good Nedaee tells anyone who will listen.
It's certainly a long way from the nightmarish Taliban with their ideas from the Stone Age. After coming to power in 1996 they banned music, pictures, statues, sport, alcohol, smoking and television. Women were forced to wear full length burqua's and forbidden from going to school, work or even leaving the house without a male relative.
Men were forced to grow beards exactly as long as their fists and to attend mosque five times a day.
They were, he recalled, still encouraged to go to the local sports ground where athletic contests had given way to more one-sided exhibitions of limb serverings and beheadings.
Nedaee remembers how gangs of thugs patrolled the streets in 4WD's bashing people at will, mostly because they were not from the Taliban's ethnic race. He and his father were bashed five times in their own home.
"Five or six of them would arrive at midnight and bash you with cables, and for no reason, they just didn't like us because I had had some education at the university," he says.
"They just wanted to ban science, education and all new ideas so the people knew nothing but what they told them."
The situation became dire when Nedaee was sentenced to death for writing letters to classmates, exhorting them to teach their sisters and daughters to read and write at home. Girls were not allowed to go to school under the Taliban, or leave the house without a female relative.
All that is behind him now. He knows his family is safe, but also that he can never return to Afghanistan because the Taliban still control large parts of the country.
When interviewed by Workers Online Roohullah was overjoyed because after three years in Australia he had been given permanent residency.
His wish now is to give something back to the country that delivered him from desperation.
"The Australian people have given me another life," smiles Roohullah.
"I just want to get my license and start building a beautiful country for the people who helped me when I was in disaster."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online