Drawing, coloured pencil on paper by Zahra Jaffari, a refugee from Afghanistan living in Indonesia, created in 2015 while she attended the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre, Bogor, Indonesia. It portrays her dangerous journey from war-torn Afghanistan on a boat to Indonesia and her dream of coming to Australia.
12 year old Zahra Jaffari is from Afghanistan (from the Hazara ethnic minority) and is currently living with her family in Indonesia, awaiting acceptance for a refugee program. She was a student in 2015 at Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre in Senior Primary One in Cisarua, Bogor, but the family had to leave there and go to Jakarta where they currently live in a poor area in difficult conditions. At the school, Zahra created a drawing to portray the injustice, war and the killing of thousands of people in Afghanistan; as well as the risk for refugees of being forced to put their lives in other people's hands in order to find a peaceful place to live. It was one of other drawings produced by students and retained by the school.
The donor of the drawing, John Taylor, is a tutor at the Dandenong Refugee Centre who visits Indonesia regularly. He noticed Zahra's drawing on the school's Facebook page in 2015 and he suggested on one of his visits that the drawing should reside in Melbourne's Immigration Museum. The school administrator and art teacher agreed. John met Zahra and her family and purchased the drawing from her during his second visit there, believing Zahra should receive some payment for the exchange. Zahra and the school hope to one day see this painting on the wall of the Melbourne Immigration Museum. John remains in contact with Zahra through Facebook.
Zahra states in a Facebook post 31 October, 2017:
"I live with my father, mother and my two brothers. When I was studying at CRLC it was very enjoyable and memorable time for me. I always feel worried about losing my friends and family. It is a horrible feeling when you travel in danger, not knowing what will happen to you or your life in the future. On the journey to Indonesia some people will survive, some are eaten by sharks and some drown. This is a small a part of the hard and terrifying journey we have to travel to reach beautiful Australia.
My painting represents the journey that I and my family took in search for a better life. From our horror situation in Afghanistan to the unknown transit in Indonesia, in the hope to live and be resettled in the beautiful country of Australia. I wish that every country would remove borders controls and declare world peace.
My dream is to be a Doctor and help people in need, even those without money. I wish to find a place that I can call home and meet my brother who lives in Australia. If there was no war in Afghanistan. I would never accept the label of refugee for my family and myself.'
Coloured pencil drawing.
Zahra's drawing, her experiences as a refugee, and friendship on Facebook with donor John Taylor speak to immigration policy and contemporary Australia. Refugees trying to reach Australia are a part of Australian history as indicative of a time when Australian immigration policies changed significantly. A social media friendship represents a historical shift in how social media is impacting international relationships and connections between Australians and people seeking asylum. These stories are of contemporary local and global significance as the Australian public actively engage stories and experiences of refugees, asylum seekers and off-shore detainees.
Social media facilitates human connections and plays a role in how the refugee diaspora living in displacement informs Australian public consciousness and activism. In the history of activism, social media has informed Australian public of conditions otherwise not known and created friendships and networks of support that become a part of refugee and migrants lives in Australia. This particular object also provides the Museum with the opportunity to document the experiences of people who wish to, but cannot become, Australian citizens. It is a way to document absence through material culture, and to position Australia within the global refugee context.
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