‘I want to inspire others,’ says Afghan surfer who came by boat as a refugee
As an ethnic Hazara from the northern Afghan town of Hairatan, his parents and six siblings fled to Pakistan in 2008, while Mobin, then 14, and his uncle, Husham , were sent to settle in a developed country.
Taliban soldiers had come for his father, Najib, a chemical engineer who had worked for an American company. Najib fled but the Taliban broke his wife’s wrist and injured two of Mobin’s brothers.
When Mobin was younger, he and his family had already spent five years in a Pakistani refugee camp, where even children had to make rugs from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. They knew there was no future in the refugee camps.
Using fake passports, Mobin and his uncle flew to Indonesia, where it took Mobin three attempts in two years to get to Australia by ship.
On the first trip, the boat was intercepted by Indonesian officials but Mobin and his uncle bribed guards to free them.
The second boat trip ended in a capsize. Mobin remembers being tangled in a tarp and rope under the overturned hull and nearly giving up.
“But I remembered my mother, and it shocked me, and I said ‘I want to see her again’. That was the trigger that gave me the energy that told me to try to get out of it.
Besides losing his uncle and hanging on to a board in the water for 16 hours, the thing that gives him the most nightmares is being beaten by guards at a prison-like detention center in Indonesia. after the rescue.
He lived in a tiny cell with 11 other asylum seekers for nearly two years, locked up 24 hours a day and surviving on a flimsy bun for breakfast and rice with oil or ketchup at 4 p.m. .
A large Afghan family he befriended, who didn’t have enough money to bribe him out of the detention center, loaned Mobin $3,000, all he they had to go out.
He had no choice but to find the same smugglers he had used before, but this time the boat – despite being lost at sea for a month – entered Australian waters and was was recovered by his navy.
After 18 months in detention on Christmas Island and Darwin, Mobin stayed briefly in Melbourne before moving to Sydney, where he lived for 10 years.
He was ‘extremely underpaid’, cleaning bathrooms, working and playing football semi-professionally when disaster struck – he broke his leg.
He was homeless when Sydney councilor and radio producer Cathy Peters answered a call on social media from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Peters gave him accommodation in Sydney’s central west Enmore for two years.
“I have a lot of love and respect for her. I always call her my lifeline, one of my heroes,” Mobin said.
Mobin taught himself to swim, and he ended up working as a lifeguard and managing three swim centers.
Sydney was getting too expensive, so three years ago he came to Melbourne, took a painting apprenticeship and started his own business, Painting and Renovation Expert.
He works 14 hours a day and employs eight people.
He is also studying at RMIT for a building and construction degree while working as a surf guide at URBNSURF on Sundays.
Damon Tudor, CEO of URBNSURF, which has been closed for half of the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, said Mobin’s story inspired him.
“You think, ‘wow, maybe I’m going to have a tough day’, but I look at what Masi’s been through and the kind of person he’s become, and I think, ‘Yeah OK, I’m going. get over it pretty quickly. Look what he overcame’.
“I have real respect for what he’s been through, where he is and his outlook on life.”
Mobin, now 27, was reunited with his family in Kazakhstan, where they now live, four years ago.
Her mother was so emotional that she couldn’t speak. “She cried for two hours.”
Mobin wants to become “the best builder in the country” and be able to look in the mirror when he gets older and say, “I had nothing and I worked hard.”
“I want to inspire the next generation after me not to give up and do something with life. If I can do it, everyone can do it too.
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