Buried alive then forced on a death march

Ryde’s Mahboba Rawi tells her brave story

A GIRL who fled with her life from the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan told her moving story to The Weekly Times at a Refugee Week event at Ryde Library last Wednesday night.

North Ryde resident Mahboba Rawi OAM works to support and encourage new migrants to Australia and inspire them with her own story of courage and triumph over impossible odds.

Mahboba Raw was only eleven when she led a girl’s protest movement against the Invasion in the capital Kabul.

“It was a terrible time in Afghanistan and it seemed like the whole world was upside down with fighting and Soviet tanks in the streets and many people thrown into prison,” she said.

“I would have been killed, definitely died because I was an activist.

“The police came to my home to search for me but my father told them I was dead although I was actually hidden under the ground for 4o days, as if I were dead.”

Mahboba knew she had to get out of Kabul to have any hope of survival.

“I fled from Kabul and walked to Pakistan and then to India where I was able to board a flight to Australia,” she said.

“The walk took many days, it was a horrible walk because I saw so many people had died on the road and were buried on the spot in ditches.

“My grandmother came with me and she got very, very sick.

“No eleven year old girl should have to suffer such an experience.”

Even when transport briefly became available the nightmare continued.

“The worst experience I can remember is being in a van with five people laying on top of me so I couldn’t breathe, I thought then that I was going to die.”

Mahboba said she will never forget the joy when her flight touched down in Sydney.

“The moment the plane touched down it was a dream come true and I thanked God and I thank God every day.”

The brave Afghan refugee first settled in Lane Cove before her move to North Ryde and despite her belief that her destiny is to help others she still recalls nightmares of her escape.

“For many years I used to see dead bodies in my dreams,” she said.

“But I am a fighter and I am honoured to have an opportunity to teach other refugees skills they need in Australia, like how to swim and how to excercise and how wonderful it is to have an opportunity to live in peace and harmony.

“My prayer is that peace and harmony will come to Afghanistan one day and that there will be an end to poverty.”

When pressed on the subject, Mahboba said her one criticism of Ryde is the high cost of buying and renting a home here.

“The thing that I like the most here is women’s freedom, here women are free, like a bird !”

Mahboba’s children have achieved their career goals in Australia – her son works for a law firm – but its her grandson Ali who has won her heart of late.

“Little Ali is the light of my life,” she said.

Afghan war survivor Mahboba Rawi OAM shared her incredible escape story with The Weekly Times at Ryde Library last week.