Written by Jade Ruston
A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about the successful extraction of the Abidi family from Kabul airport in Afghanistan, to a more peaceful refuge in Australia. Since then, Mr Erfanullah Abidi contacted The Jolly Times with a positive response, and agreed to do a follow up interview so we could all get to know the real family, their story, and be part witness to the incredible progress they are making and reception they have received since touch down.
It brings immense comfort to know that Mr Abidi and his family have been met with open arms into their new community by neighbours. Offering support, cakes, donating supplies and their time, in their best attempts at helping the transition for the family flow as easy and positive as possible, feeling the infectious warmth emitting from them and saying, “you are our family now, please do not feel alone”.
Erfanullah, father of three chimed, with a huge grin on his face; “People are really trying to keep us happy, taking us out to the zoo, to the parks, playgrounds, out of the city. This shows us a bright future and makes us think positively.”
Unfortunately, as a product of crap education, negative, falsified and propigandered media, the word Afghan has been used and interpreted incorrectly for years. When many people hear the name Afghan, their brain thinks of terrorists. Of someone inside a war, or someone who is looking for violence. In fact, the genuine meaning connected to the name Afghan is ‘one who is doing too much hospitality for their guests’.
“We have some jokes in Afghanistan.” Laughed Mr Abidi. “When a guest comes to visit your house, she or he does not have the right to say no when we offer them food. Whenever you visit an Afghan house, even if you are full, you are not hungry, but they are giving you food, you have to accept otherwise they will be deeply upset.”
“The other day, a lady came to visit us around 2pm. I just invited her in for lunch, she said that she already ate, so i told her the story and then she came into our house for the second lunch.”
In fact it is joked about so much that there have been songs created about the “Afghan Style” of living and most importantly………eating.
Upon detailing the incredible support that the Australian government has given them since their arrival, it’s exciting to hear that his children are also getting to feel the soft kind touches of encouragement that are beaming in their direction.
“My children don’t know English yet, so they are going to be enrolled in English classes. Once they have passed those classes, then they will be enrolled in school. Because right now if they are enrolled in school, it will be very difficult for them, because they don’t know any dialect.”
Coming from a well educated family and being a hard grafter himself, Erfanullah used to study two degrees at the same time. One in Law, and one in Computer science, structuring his days to focus on one degree in the morning, and the other in the evening. Past employment saw Mr Abidi in the role of an official translator for high government official documents, and was considered a strong major asset in his field.
“I had worked hard for my country’s development, but when the situation changed from bad to worse, I had now way. I applied for an Australian visa in the immigration programme .” Since then Mr Abidi and his family have all been granted visas and welcomed warmly to Australia.
Mr Abidi continues, “We waited outside Kabul airport for two days and two nights, our children were crying and they were stacked among the crowds, with no food and no water, in the direct sun, and we have very hot weather.”
Over a million people were reported to have gathered around Kabul airport with urgent hearts to escape the dark path that the Taliban were immersing their homes into.
“Whilst we were staying at the airport gate, the Taliban people were beating people, there were shots, they were trying to evade people from entering the airport. I was giving my children hope. I was trying to convince them that we have a bright future ahead. We were trying to keep their pain relieved, we were telling them to remain quiet, and that the Australian soldiers would take us inside, give us toys. At least we were trying to make them be, and feel strong. Somehow, we were trying to fool them into passing the crowds easily.”
“Leaving your country and all that you have is not easy. We have passed a big trauma, but since we arrived, everyone has tried their best to make us happy. They have shown their love and effort. Their love and care is what’s giving us hope. We manage somehow, to forget the trauma.”
“I really miss the memories I had in my country, with my friends and what we had together.”
In times of reflection and healing, it’s important that when you look back, you acknowledge not only the negative, but the positive also. To a point where your whole body is consumed with a warmness that is incomparable to any other, creating a craving for more positive moments that will reproduce that joy in the present.
“I have many friends in Afghanistan, we liked going away on weekend vacations, having picnics and going camping in the Northern Provinces of Afghanistan. We used to have a lot of fun living life. I used to always like to be outdoors and outside of Kabul, unless it was for events like Eid or new years. Things were going well in Afghanistan.”
On talking all things camping,
“I was always their cook, I always had to make them food because I was a good cook. One of the most famous foods that we have in Afghanistan that we like to take with us is karaayee. It’s made of beef or lamb, potatoes, green peppers, some chilli, basil and some other things to make it delicious.”
It’s easy to see why it would be extremely difficult to say no to a second, or third, or fourth, or fith lunch if you’re lucky enough to be in the company of the honest epitome of hospitality when his camping stories must hold truth as neighbours have been going round to their house for dinner, and asking for recipes of his food so that they can make it at home for their own families. IT’S THAT GOOD.
The gentle reception that the family has received is one that should be held for every member of our world coming to us for help, no matter where on the planet we may be at the time. Now is the time to follow by example, let the attitudes displayed above trickle into your day to day, small gestures to your neighbours make the world of difference, to some you may never know just how much.
It’s clear that the family are adjusting to their new life happily which is the Jolliest outcome anybody could dream of. Cheers to a new fruitful beginning.