Muslim refugee tells heartbreaking story of loss ahead of graduation from Woodridge State High School
By Andrew Dawson, Quest Newspapers
FOR most Year 12 school leavers November 18 is a celebration marking the end of their schooling.
For Woodridge State High School’s Mohammad Javir, that date marks the day he fulfils a wish of his dead parents.
“It was the last wish of my parents that I finish school,” said Mohammad, who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Myanmar (Burma) in 2012.
Mohammad, 20, lost his parents, younger siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins during a boat crossing on the way to Australia in 2013.
“They were lost to the waves,” he said.
Mohammad had come to Australia ahead of his family after being separated from them when their family — Rohingya Muslims — was attacked by Buddhists in their village.
“I was separated from my family on our way to the highway bus stop,” he recalled.
“That is the last day I saw my family.”
“At the bus stop a shopkeeper took out his sword and chased me because I am a Muslim,” Mohammad said.
“I joined a group running away. We ran all the way to the jungle until the Buddhist people stopped following … After that, life became something I never imagined.’’
After fleeing Myanmar he made it to Jakarta by boat, but was forced to again run for his life from gun-wielding soldiers.
He and two friends fled into the mountains, but one of his mates was shot dead and the other injured.
Shirtless, his feet bleeding, Mohammad was forced to make the terrible decision to die at the hands of soldiers by staying to help, or leaving his injured friend and pushing on to save his life.
“Still, today I feel guilty about why I didn’t save him. I have nightmares,’’ he said.
He eventually caught a boat to Australia and was interned at Christmas Island then in a mainland detention centre where he heard of the death of his family.
Alone, he was relocated to a Marsden-based detention centre and then on to Woodridge State High School where teachers and students became his extended family.
He quickly turned from a child into a young man — he had no choice.
“You have to be mature. You can’t be a kid and cry. You have to grow up, take what life offers, keep going and work hard,” he said.
And work hard he did.
While juggling school duties, Mohammad works five jobs a week — coaching soccer, refereeing Futsal, car washing, cleaning at Suncorp Stadium and washing floors at Westfield Garden City.
It was doing these menial jobs that made him realise his mother’s wish for him to finish Year 12 was a goal he had to achieve.
“My mum wanted me to finish Year 12 and I realised how important education is and that I can do better things in life and not have to keep picking up rubbish,’’ he said.
He has ambitions. He aspires to be an apprentice electrician and to change the “stereotype’’ those outside Logan have of the city.
He also hopes to return to soccer at Logan Metro.
He gave up the sport two years ago when he started work.
“I wanted to be a soccer player but losing my parents, I had to focus on my work and study,’’ he said.
“In life, you have to sacrifice, but I did not know I had to sacrifice my family. It was the worst thing in my life.’’
Last month, Mohammad was awarded the Schools Citizenship Award from the Order of Australia Association and next month will receive a Year 12 graduation certificate.
“It (school) has been like my home,’’ he said. “It makes me happy. And it has taught me all the things I need to know in life.’’
STUDENTS RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIPS
FIVE Woodridge State High School students, three of whom are refugees, have earned $30,000 University of Queensland Youth Achievement Program scholarships.
Australian-born Zinita Singh wants to “assist my community like a silent hero’’ by completing study as a nurse and midwife.
Julie Mang, a refugee from Myanmar, aims to study a Bachelor of Commerce while Naign OO Htun wants an engineering career.
Both Afghan-born Fouzieh Fazi Ahmed and Iranian-born Zeinab Ghalandari fled Iran to Australia as UNHCR refugees.
Both young women were interested in careers in pharmacy.
“Here, my gender and culture will not stop my dreams,’’ Ahmed said.
“I can achieve anything in Australia.’’
FULLBACK WINS AWARD
Torres Strait Islander Tyrell Warrior has been rewarded for giving up his beloved rugby league by winning a prestigious traineeship award.
A star fullback at Logan Brothers, the Woodridge State High School student was named South East Region School Based Trainee of the Year.
Tyrell said he loved rugby league “but I thought if I had an injury, what is plan B?’’
“You have to make sacrifices to achieve higher education,’’ he said.
Tyrell aimed to gain a Bachelor of Secondary Education in Physical Education and Business.