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29 July 2020
From southern Iraq to Australia, Aster shares the fulfilment of a childhood dream come true.
By Aster Jindou
My late father had dreamed about coming to Australia since 1969, when all of his family moved there. As a young girl, growing up in the city of Basra in southern Iraq, living in Australia became my dream too.
My parents moved to Kuwait for work, and I stayed behind. I got married to Essam and had two children. We moved to Jordan after the Gulf War of 1990-1991. I wanted to pursue my dream of Australia, for my dad as well.
Essam and I became Christians in Jordan. I had never experienced love and fellowship like this before. I wanted to get closer to God, to worship him, to learn more.
In Jordan, life was tough. We had no job and no money. I kept asking God if this was what he had intended for us, or whether there was more. One night, I simply asked him to open the door to Australia if going there would help us to love and serve him more, or to close the door if it wasn’t right for us.
One week later the United Nations accepted our applications to go to Australia as refugees. I started to cry. It was 1994. My parents and brothers were in Syria, and I called them to say we were going and, once there, would apply for them to join us. My dad started crying.
In 1995, my parents arrived in Australia and the dream was a reality. A miracle.
We loved Australia but it was very hard for me at first. I didn’t speak much English, fell pregnant, and Essam, an engineer, had to study to finish his master’s degree and find work.
When our youngest, Sarah, started preschool, I started to have more confidence and helped out at her school reading simple books and teaching basic English words to the many children of other refugees in that area.
As I believed in myself more I found work and learned how to drive. I wouldn’t have done any of this in Iraq.
Since our arrival in 1994, I had been trying to find an Arabic or Assyrian-speaking church. My cousin told us about The Salvation Army in Fairfield, Sydney, where she attended.
I prayed about it and we went to a service. We felt God’s love and the love of the church from the beginning. It was different culturally, and hard in many ways, but we were accepted, respected and encouraged. Essam got involved in music, and the kids loved Sunday school. I was so happy. The Salvation Army became our family.
In 2007, the pastors asked me to help with the increasing number of welfare clients who spoke Arabic or Assyrian. I prayed about it. I began as a volunteer and completed my Certificate 4 in Community Services. Over the years I was given more paid hours. In 2013, when the Doorways Emergency Relief program was introduced, I was asked to apply for the caseworker position – on the condition that I complete a Diploma of Community Services.
With God’s help, I did this and I was so happy. I got the job, finished my studies and am now a caseworker encouraging and helping others as I was helped.
Since my coming here, Jesus has helped me to speak up, to socialise and to grow through my spiritual journey. I have learned to pray when I want things to change.
I am so thankful for God’s blessing, the support and encouragement from The Salvation Army, and all the opportunities in this great land.