Bashir is a Hazara refugee who arrived in Australia by boat and was then kept in detention for a number of months before being released. He’s written a letter addressed to other children in detention, a way to give hope and inspire them especially around this time of year.
Dear children in detention,
I was only 15 years old, not much older than you are now, when I had to make the hardest decision of my life.
I fled Afghanistan, leaving behind war and destruction, but also my family and loved ones, as I began a long and exhausting journey in search of safety.
After arriving to Pakistan by car, I was flown to Thailand and then made my way to Indonesia. From there, I was finally on board a boat bound for Australia.
Despite the extremely difficult conditions, with more than 70 people crammed on a boat left without food and water for days, somehow, I was calm. I felt I was saved.
I was taken to Christmas Island and then transferred to a detention centre in Melbourne three months later. The conditions I faced there, however, were a different kind of difficult.
I spent each and every waking hour worrying about what would happen to me and to my younger brothers, whom I had left behind in the care of our uncle. If I didn’t succeed, my promises of safety to them would have been broken. We would have sacrificed it all for nothing.
My entire future depended on a simple yes or no.It also depended on my ability to tell my story down to every last detail, whenever I was asked.
What’s it like in your country? How did you get here? Why did you come here?
It would have been easy to get frustrated when they asked me the same questions over and over again. But I needed to survive, I told myself, that’s why I came here. And I knew they were just trying to help me the best way they can.
I also needed more human contact with people in the centre, so I decided to teach myself English.