She was living in Iran with her father, mother and younger disabled brother when authorities found out her dad had been writing articles opposing the Iranian government.
The 23-year-old City of Stirling resident said the government threatened to send her father to jail 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 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 ” everyday 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 asylum seekers.
‘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 finally 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,’ Zainab said.
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.
‘(But) if Australia doesn’t let them come, where will they go ” they could die.’