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At first, Matil heard 'gibberish' in class — before going on to become dux of her school

Matil Haddad has gone from hearing "gibberish" in class to getting the highest ATAR in her high school and being one of the top 20 students in the Northern Territory. She came to Alice Springs as a Syrian refugee four years ago, at the age of 14. At the time, she was the only person in her family who could speak English. "I was sort of thrown into this new world, and it was like 'OK, now go be an adult', and I was not ready; it was hard," she said. Being one of the only Arab families in Alic

Alice Springs Muslims able to celebrate Eid al-Adha festivities

For most Muslims across Australia, COVID-19 lockdowns have put an end to large celebrations of Eid al-Adha — the Feast of the Sacrifice — but that is not the case in Alice Springs. In the nation's red centre, people have been able to freely honour the occasion with family and friends. More than 100 Muslims have been able to visit Alice Springs' Afghan Mosque to celebrate one of Islam's holiest events that, this year, runs from July 19 to July 23. The Mosque's Imam Hamdullah bin Ataullah expla

His uncles were country singers, but Arrernte man Chris Wallace wanted to rock

Starting with a ukulele in the community of Santa Teresa was the beginning of lead member of Southeast Desert Metal Chris Wallace's passion for pursuing metal music. Mr Wallace comes from a family of artists with many of his uncles playing country music, but he was drawn to metal bands like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. "I just wanted to be like one of those guys and [looking back] it really did pay off," Mr Wallace said. Arrernte band Southeast Desert Metal has gained national attent

Women are calling out unwanted advances on LinkedIn

Layla* was just 18 when she stopped using LinkedIn after what she said was an "uncomfortable" encounter. In 2019, she connected with someone on the social media platform through the "find nearby" option during a university networking event with the intention of building her professional connections. "Previously, I thought like it was pretty innocent, nothing to worry about," Layla said. After she connected with the man, she felt she was starting to build her network. "He just messaged me say

Thousands of recent graduates are calling on Australia to freeze their visas in the 'Visa 485 Lives Matter' campaign

Kriti Gupta is hoping to return to Australia, but her visa will expire by the time international borders open again. The Indian national holds a temporary graduate visa (TGV) — also known as a 485 visa — which allows her to stay in Australia and work in a job that uses the architectural design skills she gained at university. "So my 485 visa is going to expire this year [in] October," Ms Gupta said. "I tried to book many flights so that I can come back as soon as I can, but unfortunately they

Anhar has a condition that makes her more vulnerable to COVID. She didn't know she could get the vaccine

Anhar Al-Shameri is immunocompromised, but until recently, she wasn't sure if she could get the COVID-19 vaccine. "I don't know when I go to the vaccine clinic, what will they ask me? What kind of paperwork will they demand? Because I'm not sure where I stand, or where I am placed in this process," she said. Ms Al-Shameri, who lives in Melbourne, is a bridging visa holder from Yemen and has neutropoenia, a condition that has left her with low levels of white blood cells, making it harder for h

'I can't imagine not wearing my hijab': Why many Muslim women choose to wear 'modest' clothes

"The hijab is a part of me where I feel powerful and confident because I am 100 per cent myself," Ms Awamleh told the ABC. A professional fashion designer in Melbourne, Ms Awamleh has been working to normalise the wearing of hijabs and "modest" fashion. She said dressing modestly was not just for Muslim women. "I have this vision where I want to empower women to dress elegantly and powerfully, and it doesn't matter whether you wear a hijab or not," Ms Awamleh said. "I think women are beautif

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'I didn’t know where to go': Refugee men want change on the 'taboo' conversation on trauma and mental health

Majed Al Hanooch came to Melbourne as a refugee in late 2017 at the age of 16. It was “not easy” for him as he had to leave parts of his culture in Iraq because his family needed to find safety. He comes from a Christian family and if they stayed in their home country they could suffer religious persecution from ISIS. “I was kind of young but old at the same time,” he said. “I just got used to it”. Mr Al Hanooch is now in his first year of university studying computer science. But he has expe

The refugees in Jordan trying to overcome Australia’s 'complex' migration policies

Ashur* and his family escaped Iraq from ISIS wanting to find refuge in a safe place. He and his family lived in Tel Keppe located less than 12 kilometres north-east of Mosul. In 2014, when ISIS took over, they fled with nothing but the clothes they had on. They left their home, work and Ashur's oldest son could not finish university for fear of being bombed on the way. There were swarms of people fleeing on foot and crowded busses transiting to multiple destinations. In just a few hours mov

Statelessness: The millions lacking human rights in their home country

Hassan Jaber, 37, was born and raised in Kuwait. But he is a minority in his home country – a Kuwaiti-Bidoon. Bidoon is short for Bidoon Jinsiyya, meaning ‘without nationality’ in Arabic. “I’m from Kuwait, my dad’s from Kuwait, we’re not from any other country, but we are stateless in Kuwait with no rights,” Jaber told me. Being stateless meant Jaber was unable to pursue further education and other facilities available to Kuwaiti citizens. “Without any passport, without any medical care, with

Why you should know about statelessness

What if you had no nationality? You are considered an illegal resident in your home country and lack basic human rights. This is the life of a stateless person. According to The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to a nationality”, and when they are not, people are denied access to healthcare and education. So why are people stateless? There are many reasons why someone could be stateless. Many people are born into it. It can be due to the lack of birth regist

Vitality Volunteering Magazine NT

Two articles I wrote about the youth of Alice Springs. 

Vitality Volunteering Summer 2019 Issue

Pg.5, 11