ZAHRA IS ONE OF MANY MUSLIM WOMEN LIVING IN INNER-CITY PUBLIC HOUSING.
DEFEND WOMEN LIKE ZAHRA FROM POLICIES OF DISPLACEMENT AND GENTRIFICATION.
Meet Zahra- a public tenant.
Zahra is originally from
She is one of six children. She has four sisters and a brother. Her father was a policeman. She had a very happy childhood.
Her culture is one in which relatives, neighbours and friends are always visiting one another, sharing meals and conversations. Children play together and there is a strong social network. “Everybody is happy together.”
Zahra was married when she was only thirteen years of age. It was an arranged marriage. She doesn’t remember much about her wedding day. “I was too young.”
Throughout its history
Eritrea has been embroiled in many struggles
with colonial powers, as well as fighting for its independence from . Many
countries wanted domination of Ethiopia Eritrea
due to its strategic position on the Red Sea.
A 30 year war ( 1961- 91 ) against the Ethiopian government left
in ruins. Billions of dollars were spent in arms against Eritrea .
Infrastructure and services were destroyed leaving towns without electricity,
water and transportation for many years. The ports were bombed. Tens of
thousands of civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands became refugees. Eritrea
It was during this war that Zahra, who was a young mother with two sons, fled the country with her husband. Refugees left
or by camel, stopping each night to rest and to sleep. She remembers the planes
overhead dropping bombs and the noise of the helicopters. Eritrea
“ I was in the middle of a war. I was scared. I felt very sad too.”
It took one month of walking before the family reached Kasala in
. Zahra and her family settled in Kasala and
lived with relatives there. She had three more children. Zahra has three
daughters and two sons. Sudan
Her husband returned to
family lost all contact with him. Eritrea
was good in spite of people
having very little. “Everybody helps each other. Everybody
shares.” Zahra raised her children and lived in Sudan for the
next thirty years. Sudan
Seven years ago Zahra’s sister helped the family to immigrate to
Zahra wanted her children to have more opportunities in life. Her
three adult daughters are living here. One is married with two children. The
are studying at university. One son has since died and the other son still lives
in Australia . Sudan
Zahra misses both her sons. She would like to see her surviving son very much. She has not seen him in seven years. She and her daughters have applied for him to come to
, but have so far been
unsuccessful. Zahra has become depressed and pessimistic about being reunited
with her son. She has diabetes and insomnia. Australia
Her adult daughter, Nahla, returned to Kasala recently for a holiday. All their neighbours, friends and relatives made a huge fuss over her. They roasted a whole lamb and held a feast in her honour. There was music and dancing. Whenever they spoke of Zahra they cried, because they miss her so much.
Zahra is a Muslim. She gains a lot of peace and comfort from practicing her religion. She prays five times a day. She enjoys cooking for her daughters and her two little grandchildren. She cooks delicious Sudanese food; rice, beans, salad, meat, chicken and fish.
She is very happy with her Public Housing flat. She visits the Mosque and shops at
Barkly Square in Sydney Road. She buys her fresh produce
at the Victoria Market.
Every week she joins other Muslim women from the Eritrean community. They share a meal and enjoy each other’s company.
Zahra has lived in Public Housing in
seven years, but has only lived on the current Housing Estate in Carlton for three months.
She likes it here. “The area is nice. The people are friendly” Australia