Meet Our Board Member Mardiya

From Found

Mardiya is one of From Found's wonderful board members. She is from a refugee background and has lived in Australia for nearly 18 years. Here, Mardiya's shares with us her story and why she chose to become part of From Found.

Can you tell us a bit about your family?
My family is made up of 6 amazing and remarkable people. My loving husband who has supported me throughout all my adventures and hardships. My eldest child is my wonderful son who is completing his second year of University, I am very proud of him. And finally, my 4 beautiful daughters who never stop the smile from leaving my face.

When did you come to Australia and from where?
On September, 1999, my husband first stepped onto the land of Australia as a refugee. He sponsored my son and I to come from Iraq and build a better life in Australia. After one year of separation and patience, the moment finally came when I reunited with my loving husband and started a new life here.

Why did you want to be involved in helping From Found come to life?
From Found has a strong basis and foundation of love, support and determination. Its values and morals underpin the aim and purpose of the organisation. I have always aspired to put my values into action and support newly arrived women in Australia and help to make ethical clothing that is accepted by everyone. I have a strong desire to give them a lending hand, welcome and comfort them, and give them an easier and fresh start in Australia. I love to empower women to learn, improve their language, achieve new skills, and be prepared for the work life. It is also a great privilege to be able to work with like-minded, passionate women in assisting, supporting and empowering newly arrived women in Australia.

Since settling in Australia, what are some of your proudest achievements?
My proudest achievements since settling in Australia include, raising my wonderful five children, achieving a Bachelor of Social Work, and traveling with my family to my home country every few years, all with the love and support of my husband.

Thinking back to when you first arrived, what were some of the hardest adjustments you had to make?
Thinking back to when I had first arrived in Australia, the language and culture barrier was a difficult adjustment in my life and so was coping with the separation of my parents, my family and my home country. It took precious time for me to readjust to a new lifestyle and settle in Australia.

Why do you think it is important that the focus of From Found is on women in particular?
The focus of women in From Found is vital because a lot of women who have migrated to Australia from other countries lack the fundamental skills to settle due to their culture limitations and restrictions. Newly arrived women are predominantly the most vulnerable in Australia demonstrated through their lack of knowledge of skills and English. Furthermore, they require more empowerment and encouragement for them to begin to study or work.

Do you think it's harder for women from refugee backgrounds to learn English and become involved in wider society, than the rest of their family? Why/why not?
I truly believe it is more challenging for women from refugee backgrounds to learn English and become involved in the wider society in comparison to men. This is primarily due to their culture and opinion of their role as a mother and wife. It is mainly believed that housework and raising their children are the main priority of the woman. Therefore, it is not deemed important to learn English and consequently a lack of connection with the wider community is resulted.

In your own experience, what are some of the most common reasons that women from refugee backgrounds can become isolated from wider society?

Communication is a vital tool that allows people to connect with each other. Referring to previous experiences, a language barrier prevents women from refugee backgrounds to speak and communicate with others. It becomes difficult to express their feelings and emotions, and they cannot make connections with other people. A lack of understanding of different cultures also makes communication limited. This can majorly affect newly arrived women in becoming isolated from the wider community.

What do you hope the women employed by From Found will gain from being involved?

I hope the women employed by From Found will gain a new perspective and view of life through a different environment. I hope they will attain more confidence and empowerment to be able to overcome difficulties in life as well as accomplish further desires such as apply for different jobs. It will hopefully open their eyes to new cultures and opinions as wells as help them improve and settle in Australia easier.

When you imagine 10 years into the future, what is your hope for the future of From Found?

I hope From Found will be a successful and unique team that are trusted and renowned for the support and assistance they provide for newly arrived women in Australia and will proudly see women achieve their best and become flourishing individuals.