Mubaraka was born in Afghanistan, but she not does remember much about her country because her family moved to a town across the border is west central Pakistan when she was a baby. Not long after they left their homeland, Mubaraka’s mother left the family and eventually her father remarried. Sadly, Mubaraka and her stepmother didn’t get along, and when the girl was in 3rd grade, she was made to quit school. “Girls stay at home to cook and clean”, her stepmother told her. When she was a teenager, and with no objection from her father, Mubaraka was told she would marry her stepmother’s 50-year-old brother. Feeling certain that this was not right, Mubaraka ran away and lost all contact with her family.
Almost unbelievably, 16-year-old Mubaraka boarded a mini-bus to Kabul, more than 300 miles away. In retelling her story, Mubaraka is unclear on many details. But she does recall having been befriended by several women who sheltered her and, hearing her story, suggested she follow a familiar route of many Hazara Afghans … to Indonesia. One woman had a brother in Indonesia, and she felt it would be a safer place for Mubaraka. Travel plans were made and in May 2016, Mubaraka left Kabul, and traveled to India, Malaysia, and finally Jakarta.
Once Mubaraka got to Jakarta, she knew to register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR). And, as a single child, she was assigned to live with a foster family, but the situation did not work out, and Mubaraka was moved to another family and then to group home that CWS manages with financial support from the Australian government for teenage girls and young women who are alone in their lives. In this home, and several others for boys, refugee and asylum-seeking young people have a safe living space. For Mubaraka, who has had so much harm and sadness in her life, to be in a place where there is security and help is remarkable to her. “Security guards, Social Workers and Protection Officers are here to help us with whatever we need. I feel certain that nothing bad will happen here”, she gratefully states – which CWS staff are happy to hear as encouragement to continue their diligent care for girls like Mubaraka, who have suffered so much.
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