9 July 2021

After spending five years on Nauru, Khan is now finding happiness in Australia

Image: Close up photo of a mans face. He is wearing a red shirt and khaki jacket. There are two green 'L' framing his face.

For asylum seekers and refugees, the costs of obtaining passports and applying for visas is often too dangerous and can put their or their families lives at risk. Others may not have time to apply due to rapidly deteriorating situations. Whilst fleeing by boat is extremely dangerous, for some people - it is their only option in desperate circumstances.

Ahmad Khan* is an asylum seeker who fled Afghanistan for Australia due to persecution and conflict by boat in 2013.

As frequently happens, the boat Khan was on was intercepted and he was taken to Nauru for offshore processing. He spent the next five years of his life there.

He describes his time in Nauru as very difficult.

“It will never be forgotten, but it is in the past.”

Whilst his time on Nauru was hard, some good did come of it. Nauru is where Khan met his now wife. They also welcomed their first child at the processing centre. Khan had the opportunity to develop the skills he needed to work in the construction industry as well, which led to him securing a job as a tiler in Australia when he did arrive here.

Khan’s remarkable resilience, courage and optimism is clear in his reflections of his time in detention.

“Life is not easy, and everyone has a different story to tell. I try my best to look forward and overcome. If one door closes, I know another door will open,” said Khan.

After half a decade, Khan and his family were finally transferred to Australia in 2018 where they lived in temporary accommodation while their immigration case was assessed. During this time, the family received accommodation and casework support through the Life Without Barriers’ National Immigration Support Service (NISS).

“The Life Without Barriers workers were always there to assist my family and connect us to the services we needed,” he said.

Through his hard work and perseverance, Khan has been recently offered a small business loan through Thrive Refugee Enterprise. A loan he hopes will help him purchase a work vehicle to transport himself and his work tools to the different work sites.

“The employment team at Life Without Barriers connected me to this organisation and they assisted with the loan application too. Having a suitable car will help me with my work and safety.”

While Khan and his family remain on temporary bridging visas, he appreciates the opportunity to be living and working in Australia.

“I love the culture in Australia where all people are accepted no matter where they come from and what they believe. This way of life gives me encouragement for my family’s future and hope for humanity.”

*Photo's and names have been changed.

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