She was living in Iran with her father, mother and younger brother, who has a disability, when authorities found out her dad had been writing articles opposing the government.
The 23-year-old City of Stirling resident said the Iranian government threatened to jail her father and so, fearing for their safety, they fled the country.
‘We left everything in two days and my mother, brother and I went to another house for 15 days, but my dad left Iran in two days,’ she said.
‘My dad went to Indonesia and he contacted us when he found somebody to bring us to Australia by boat for about US $5000 (about AUD $5552) per person.
‘The most difficult time in my whole life was the time I was in Indonesia.
‘We were waiting to come to Australia and the people who wanted to bring us weren’t nice, they were lying to us ” every day they were telling us we were going but we stayed there for four months.’
In 2011, the day finally came when Zainab and her family left Indonesia for Australia by boat with more than 50 other refugees.
‘The people who wanted to bring us to Australia said it was a nice big ship that had a separate room for women, chairs and a toilet, but it was a small fishing boat with no rooms or toilet,’ she said.
‘We had water but that’s all ” we didn’t have any food.
‘Everybody in the boat was sick and vomiting and couldn’t do anything.
‘I thought if I had to stay in the boat one more day I would die ” I couldn’t bear it anymore. When we arrived, I thanked God we were alive.’
After three days on the boat, Zainab and her family arrived in Australia to begin their new life ” their first stop was a three-month stay at a Darwin detention centre before moving to Perth.
‘I think Australia is a good country and I appreciate Australian people because they let us come here after we had no choice to live in our country.’
She said she was thankful the policy towards asylum seekers arriving by boat had not changed two years ago because she wouldn’t know what her life would have been like, but understood both sides of the argument.
‘When I was in Iran, I was thinking ‘no, we should not let the Afghan people come to my country’ because my country was busy and we didn’t have enough jobs for our own people and there was a lot of people starving,’ she said.
‘But now when I’m in their situation I can understand them because the Afghan people had no choice at all.
‘I can understand the Australian people ” they want to improve their country and they want to support their people and when everyone comes by boat they increase the population.
‘People have no choice ” people have no place to go if they don’t come to Australia.
‘If Australia doesn’t let them come, where will they go? They could die.’