Akram’s dream realised

Akram Latif and daughter Shams relaxed and feeling at home in Australia. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d420489
Akram Latif and daughter Shams relaxed and feeling at home in Australia. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d420489

The streets of Baghdad were worlds apart from the Australian countryside, but the bright young teenager was determined to turn his dreams into reality and went on to study agriculture, graduating with an advanced diploma.

But everything was put on hold when he was conscripted into the Iraqi army when the Iran-Iraq war began in 1980.

Mr Latif served in the army for eight years, the full length of the war, and during that time he managed to find time to study English and German.

‘We served in the army because we had no choice. If you don’t go to the army, you go to prison,’ he said.

After the war ended, Mr Latif was in need of work and his friends offered him a job as a goldsmith. He learnt the skills of the trade and six years later, opened his own goldsmith business, where he designed and sold his own jewellery.

For three years, he owned a successful business in Baghdad and during that time met his wife Sausan, with whom he now has three daughters, Shams (20) and twins Fairouz and Venus (13).

When the Iraq War started in 2003, Mr Latif said Baghdad was no longer safe.

‘It was a very nice place, but now it is different,’ he said.

The war resulted in a loss of work and income for many people, which led to crime and violence, Mr Latif said.

Civilians were left without water and power and had to rely on generators.

The Latif family fled to Syria in 2006, along with many other Iraqi families.

Mr Latif had odd jobs working in a clothing workshop, which supplemented the UN assistance the family were otherwise reliant on. They spent three years in Syria and during this time Mr Latif applied for an Australian visa.

With the help of his sister, who knew Angela Chaney, the wife of former Australian politician Fred Chaney, and other family members living in Australia, his application was accepted.

Mr Latif managed to make it to Australia with his family in 2009 and they now call Armadale home. He and his wife volunteered for two years, when they first arrived in Australia.

They have both learnt English and Mrs Latif studied community services. She now works as a financial counsellor in Cannington, while Mr Latif works as a security officer.

Daughter Shams is studying chemical engineering at university, while his other two daughters are at high school.

Mr Latif doesn’t have the farm he once wanted, but he is happy with his big garden and enjoys life in Australia.

‘Two dreams came true – I married the girl I loved and moved to Australia,’ he said. Mr Latif and his family received their Australian citizenship on May 29.