As a young child, Hawa Quaid Mohammad came from a village in Pakistan to live in Australia. She went to university, is now working in the legal area and is currently a UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador. This is her story.
I came to Australia from a small village on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which, at the time, was a volatile part of the world. My parents wanted to move to a place of safety and security in order to offer me a comfortable life.
I’m the eldest child and I’ve always felt the need to be a good role model to my smaller siblings. Coming to this country without any English, I needed to learn everything from scratch as we started our new lives.
At school I felt a difference and disparity between me and the other children. I felt isolated and did not understand Australian culture, which was so different to my own. At the time there was little understanding about migrant experiences and adjusting to life in Australia was challenging.
My journey of self-acceptance began when I started to understand that my diversity was actually a strength. During high school, I tried my best to study hard, network with different people and organisations, and pave my way in this big world. I was fortunate enough to become school captain and excelled academically.
At university, I finally found my culture and background to be a source of empowerment. I decided to study law and social and political sciences because I am dedicated towards social justice and equity, as well as listening to the stories of different people.
As part of my role as a UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador, I have been lucky to speak to young people across the country to understand their perspectives and experiences before and during the pandemic.
And now, as part of the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board, I hope to listen to and engage with different communities.
As a migrant myself, I feel I have a responsibility to make it easier for someone else to move to this country and adjust to a new culture and life, while never forgetting their own.
I look forward to contributing to the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board to make sure the experiences of young people from diverse backgrounds are at the forefront of the agency’s work.