Hobart student Arezo Hami reflects on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and dreams of becoming a police officer

Arezo Hami has just graduated in 12th grade, but navigating the Australian bureaucracy to help her family and friends back in Afghanistan has proved to be the biggest challenge.

It is a little over 100 days since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and the 18-year-old Hobart student and Hazara woman has spoken out about the impact it has had on the local Afghan community.

“Everyone was really sad and really scared because they have family in Afghanistan and they’re all trying to get them out,” she told Ryk Goddard on ABC Radio Hobart.

“For the generation now, who know nothing about the Taliban, everyone just saw their families scared, and that was devastating.”

A young woman in a hijab speaks into a microphone
Arezo speaks to the audience at the Reclaim the Night rally in Hobart.(Delivered by: Anna Bateman)

Arezo has not lived in Afghanistan – she was born in Iran and came to Australia as a refugee and has lived in Tasmania since 2015.

She can see the past trauma in the eyes of her parents.

“I understand how my parents feel, they tell their stories about how the Taliban took over 20 years ago and how they are back now,” she said.

“Everyone in the community was just so upset, it affected everyone.”

On Thursday night, she spoke about her experiences at Hobart’s Reclaim the Night event, which highlights the situation of women from different sections of society, including those living with a disability and Aboriginal women.

A young woman in a hijab stands at a lectern
Hazara woman Arezo Hami wants to give Afghan women a voice.(Delivered by: Arezo Hami)

To give a voice

Arezo has been busy studying for her final exams at Elizabeth College while trying to help members of the Afghan community navigate Australia’s complex immigration system.

“There are families here who do not know how to speak or write English and their children have to fill out forms or go and ask for help from someone else,” she said.

“I was busy studying to prepare for exams, but then I had to fill out forms for so many families.

“The chance of them being accepted was about 1 percent.”

Arezo knows there is not much she can do from Tasmania, but she is trying to give a voice to those in her home country.

“I try to speak for my people,” she said.

Women march in Afghanistan with signs
Women took to the streets in Kabul in the days after the Taliban took power, but there are now reports that female activists have been killed. (AP)

Communication with the family in Afghanistan has been difficult due to lack of internet and when her uncle died recently, it was difficult to get information.

“The only thing we can do from here is to hope that Australia receives more refugees from Afghanistan,” she said.

“We can ask them to live another day, they are starving, they are hiding from the Taliban and running away.

A woman stands in front of a stone monument and looks into the distance.
Arezo has helped family and friends in Afghanistan seek asylum.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

Police dreams

Arezo wants to be a police officer, a dream she’s had since she was a young girl.

“If I could join the police here, it would be the best thing ever,” she said.

“In Iran, I did not see many female police officers, and I really wanted to be.

“In my family, there are no women who are police, and I want to be the first.”

A young woman in a hijab, looking at the camera
Arezo wears the hijab and says the Hobart community is very accepting of it.(Delivered by: Arezo Hami)

She knows this is something that would not happen under Taliban rule and she is grateful to live in Australia.

“I would not have gone to school and gone to exams and followed my dreams. They force women and children to marry their militants.

“It’s so different here, right now I’m speaking, and in Afghanistan women are not allowed to do that.”

Arezo wears the hijab and said she was originally scared in Australia.

“When I first got here, I was a little scared and thought people might attack [me],” she said.

“I do not wear full coverage … my mother used to wear it when she came here and I was so scared of her and took care of her.

“But now it’s fine, no one is judging you, and everyone understands, it’s really great in Hobart.”

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