Our whole family came to Australia by boat. Sometimes in Iran, the government ‘disappears’ people and nobody knows where they have gone. Our father had already been harassed a few times, and we were very worried about what might happen next, so we made the decision to leave everything behind.
We were held on Christmas Island for just over 2 months, before being moved to a detention centre in South Australia, luckily, because just after we arrived, they started taking people to Nauru rather than to the mainland.
After we were released, we were on a Community Detention visa for two years, which didn’t allow us to work or study, and the only thing we were allowed to do was 6 hours of English class per week. So we spent most of our time just doing volunteer work in lots of different places. Even though we were happy we were safe, when you don’t know what’s going to happen in your future, that uncertainty that you or one of your family members might be sent back to your country still ruins your life – you can’t concentrate. Finally, we were found to be genuine refugees, and were all put onto the new SHEV visa, which gives us work rights. But this is a temporary visa for five years, so we are still thinking about what’s going to happen after that.
The perception of asylum seekers in Australia is so negative – when you say, ‘I’m an asylum seeker’, people’s faces change, which is hard for us. We decided to open Ayla’s vegetarian cafe to show people that even though we’re asylum seekers, we can work hard, that we can contribute to the community, that we are not the stereotype you know. We are not criminals, we are not here to take everything away. We came here for another reason. Nobody likes to leave their home town, their country. For example, our father is 45 years old. He grew up in Iran, he had his family there, his life was set up. Now, if he has to go to the doctor, he needs his son to go with him and translate. Nobody wants this kind of situation at his age. And nobody wants to put their children’s lives in danger.
It has not been an easy thing. In the 8 months since we opened this place, we’ve had just 4 days off and every day we’ve worked more than 12 hours. But everyone has helped – our cousins and friends lent us money to get started and our mum and dad and aunties help out in the café. Many people who are not family have helped us too. The landlord trusted us even though we didn’t have savings, and the person who used to own this place agreed to act as a guarantor for our rent, even though she had never met us before! And recently a guy from Strata offered to fix this place up for us. He said, ‘I see you guys in here before me and leaving after me every day, so I’m going to work for you for free.’
Sometimes there is something bigger than hope behind these things, some people call it God, some people call it religion or karma, whatever you call it, there has been something behind everything that has happened to us here.
We feel a great sense of welcoming.
Arian and Mahyar
If you live in Adelaide, pop into Ayla’s cafe on Bent St for a great coffee!
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I hope you do feel welcomed fellas. There are heaps of Australians who are happy to have asylum seekers come here. Good on you
I’m sorry you’ve had years of uncertainty here. I hope with more stories like yours, the perception of not only everyday people, but the policy makers change and you and future refugees are given access to work and study visas immediately.
People complain about the ‘cost’ of asylum seekers and refugees, but surely not allowing them to be functioning members of society is far greater.
Welcome Arian and Mahyar, wishing you both happy and prosperous lives here in Australia.
I’m so glad your story, and so many others like it, are finally being told. Australia needs to see the human face, to understand that refugees are people trying to escape the most difficult and dangerous situations.
Welcome to Australia, and good luck.
45 year old Dad sounds so young to be referred to as old. So I looked up male life expectancy in Iran in 2012 = 69. That’s if the government doesn’t ‘disappear’ you earlier. Welcome Arian, Mahyar and family, I wish you all a happy, healthy long life ????
Blessings to you and your family. I hope your fathers struggle has lessened. Having two such wonderful sons to support and love him goes a long way to mending a broken heart. I know if I had to leave my home country – never to return again- would be soul destroying x
Welcome! My family came here as refugees also but you guys have been through much more uncertainty than us. I wish you every blessing and luck in your new business and new life in Australia!
I wish you and your family all the luck for your futures – and if I’m ever in Adelaide I will make a point of dropping in to your cafe x
Dear Arian and Mahyar – not all Australians view asylum seekers with suspicion. My family are so glad to be able to meet people such as yourselves. It takes courage and great strength of character to embrace a new way of life, and I’m so happy for the support being offered to you. What a blessing you are to our country. I hope your wonderful father is able to learn English so he can feel somewhat more independent in his new country, without losing his sense of self. Every day in my work I speak with people where English is their second language and they are so proud of themselves being able to explain what they need without having to resort to an interpreter. So glad your family is here.
Thank you for sharing your story . I’m ashamed of those people who’s faces changed when you told them you were asylum seekers . Your story is exactly what Australia should be proud of and not the the abhorrent abuse taking place on Naru and Manus Island .
Not everyone in Australia feels that way about people seeking asylum in our country. You are a shining example of what desparate people from other lands can do for our country. Welcome and best wishes for your future.
Congratulations, this is what people living in Australia need to see, many good stories I am sure, as well as yours and unfortunately many have no idea how hard it is to leave your country of birth, not what you would have chosen if there was a choice, we are privaledged to live here, all of us because we all originated somewhere else. Not all work as hard as you and your family have, fantastic work, well done and welcome xxx
Amazing….you should be beyond proud of your bravery & focus towards a safe & wonderful new life for you both & your family.
Welcome to your family from mine x
I love this Nicola Gray! I love reading these people’s stories as the more truth that is spread the more we can breakdown the barriers that have been built! Your spin is awesome! These young men are commendable! I too have worked with asylum seeker families. I would love to talk more with you. I feel blessed having known these beautiful people.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I cannot even begin to imagine what you and your family have gone through to get here. I am ashamed of our government, it lacks empathy, compassion and humanity and I hope there will be a new government soon. You can be proud of yourselves for what you have contributed to our community. And I live in Adelaide so I will be coming to visit your cafe ASAP. ????
Don’t believe the media and the politicians. Many, many Australians, like me, welcome asylum seekers or once were refugees themselves. We also remember how bland and boring Australia was before we had such a wonderful, diverse, multicultural society. You are welcome here and best wishes for your future.
I congratulate you and your family for your fortitude and strength of character. I wish you all every success in this country, I am ashamed of our governments’ treatment of ‘refugees’ and wonder how many of us could deal with the possibility of having to flee for our lives!! Good luck to you all!
When people tell me they are refugees, my face changes, not because I see you in a negative light but because i think of what had you leave your home and the ordeal you go through to arrive here and the processes our government subjects you to & I think about what it would be like to live the uncertainty of what’s going to happen
I think this is a normal human reaction, to be suspicious. It comes from the media only showing us ‘terrorists’ and the bad people from middle eastern countries.
I believe when people realise you’re good, hard working people who had to leave their country out of fear, then surely they’d be fine.
Beautiful story, just don’t hold it against the scared few please!! ????
Beautiful story.You have a lovely sense of what family is and all helping each other.Our family wishes you the best of everything in your lives and in all you do.Welcome to lovely S.A.
Dear boys, I welcome you and your beautiful family to Australia.
I have grown up loving our multicultural society.
I am 7th generation Australian. What this means is that my family came to this land as immigrants. Convicts, Lutheran’s escaping persecution, miners escaping poverty.
Our family’s beginnings are very different but I feel privilaged to have been born in Australia and I am grateful to be able to share the peace and beauty of this country with you.
I hope in time you all will feel that a part of you is home. Fate, destiny, a higher power. This is your journey and hopefully now your safe place to rest.
Much love. Trudy Jane
My great grandmother was a ‘Refugee’ from a crumbling Irish economy. She and my great grandfather, a hardworking German immigrant met and made their lives together in Queensland. All of us except the great indigenous people of this country have a story of other origins. That’s what makes this country so unique.
Welcome. Thank you for choosing to make our place a better place. I wish you every success!!!
Wish my family lived closer so we could support you & your family and friend by visiting your cafe. Welcome to Australia. It is people like you that help to make this country such a beautiful place to live.
My parents just happened to fly to Adelaide for the weekend from NSW and so I shared this story with them and they just went Ayla’s cafe this morning! Got photos of the boys and all. Mum said the cafe was great!
Welcome Arian and Mahyar, and thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry you have faced such hardship and uncertainty, but am glad you have been welcomed into Australia, rather than the horrific prospect many face on Nauru.
Congratulations on your cafe; I will come and enjoy a coffee there. Pi love that I live in the most multicultural of countries, and I wish you all the very best for your future here.
It’s wonderful that you have been able to share your story and through it, have found that many many Australians wholeheartedly welcome you. If I lived in Adelaide I would support your business. If you know of any new arrivals in Brisbane whose business needs supporters, let us know!! Hopefully through this forum you will be able to support other refugees and n some way. Good luck and enjoy!