Afghan women learn to swim, drive in Australia According to Reuters


© Reuters. Newly arrived Afghan refugee Sahar Azizi drives during his second driving lesson in Sydney, Australia August 2, 2022. REUTERS / Stefica Nicol Bikes


By Stefica Nicol Bikes

SYDNEY (Reuters) – At an indoor pool in Sydney’s western suburbs, about 20 Afghan women who had just arrived in Australia as refugees listen to former asylum seeker Maryam Zahid as she offers them swimming lessons and talks about culture country beach.

Zahid, who came to Australia from Afghanistan 22 years ago, says her sessions help women develop their “identity for themselves” and deal with the trauma of war ravaging their homeland.

“It’s something that’s going to impact the psychological and emotional aspects of their lives … for them to have an identity as one,” Zahid told Reuters at the Ruth Everuss aquatic center in suburban Auburn. People.

“We’re creating memories for them. Memories of freedom, happiness, opportunity.”

A year after the US-led coalition left Afghanistan in chaos, tens of thousands of Afghans have been resettled in the United States and Europe. Australia initially issued 3,000 humanitarian visas to Afghans after August 2001, and earlier this year said it would allow an additional 15,000 refugees over the next four years.

Zahid’s ‘Afghan Women on the Move’ program also helps refugees – many of whom fled after the radical Islamist movement Taliban returned to power – learn to drive and find work.

She believes the women may not return to Afghanistan, where the government has severely curtailed the rights of women and girls. For example, girls are forbidden to go to high school.

Some women at the center chose not to speak in front of the camera, out of concern for the safety of their families back home.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Sahar Azizi is taking her second driving lesson as she carefully navigates Sydney’s busy suburban streets.

“I decided to start learning and driving… instead of sitting at home all day thinking about how bad the situation is in Afghanistan,” said Azizi, who arrived in Australia a year ago with her husband and a premature son. said.

“It was very stressful. So I decided to keep going… do something for me and achieve my dreams and goals.”

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