AFTER fleeing persecution in Afghanistan as a child, 20-year-old Woodlands resident Wahida Samim now has dreams of becoming a human rights lawyer.
The Churchlands Senior High School graduate won the City of Stirling’s Australia Day youth award for her work with the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network WA and being a leader within her own ethnic Hazara Afghan community.
“The main aspect of the network was talking about what youth are going through, especially refugees and migrants and highlighting those issues to politicians,” she said.
“I think as a migrant, when you hit the teenage years you can face difficulties with knowing who you are and what your identity is and where you belong.”
Ms Samim said she was separated from her father for several years after he fled Afghanistan and was held in a detention centre.
“I didn’t know too much about my dad, I didn’t even know what he looked like. People would tell me stories and say you have exactly the same nose and eyes as your dad, but I didn’t have any memory of him,” she said.
“You lose that bond and had to work hard to get it back again.
“I was very lucky to have a dad who really encouraged me with my education and to be involved with the community.”
With the final year of an undergraduate Commerce degree at UWA underway, Ms Samim was also awarded the prestigious Colombo Plan scholarship, which will allow her to travel to Hong Kong later this year.
“I’m hoping to do postgraduate Law and be a human rights lawyer; that would be a really great opportunity to work with vulnerable people,” she said.
Ms Samim said welcoming neighbours and sharing culture was a key part of embracing multiculturalism in a community.