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28 Sep 2023


Empowering Communities and Building Bridges: how Marziyah’s lived experience informs her work at SSI

SSI Gambling Harm Prevention Program Coordinator, Marziyah Razi shares her journey arriving in Australia as a refugee and how her past experiences have influenced and motivated her efforts at SSI. As a dedicated volunteer, Marziyah also shares how she builds strong connections within the Afghan-Australian community in Melbourne.

“I have a strong desire to contribute to the community and extend the same support to others that I had received when I first arrived in Australia.”

Tell us about your resettlement journey?

My family and I had to leave our home country, Afghanistan, due to war when I was less than a year old. We moved to various countries until we finally got the chance to come to Australia, accompanied by only two of my siblings, in 2015.

The opportunity to resettle in Australia is one of my life’s most significant events. This country has provided me with safety, security, and, most importantly, the opportunity to grow. Indeed, the journey hasn’t been easy, but the path refugees treads strengthens them and equips them to confront any obstacles.

Since I arrived in Australia, I’ve dedicated myself to creating a better life and future. I take great pride in my resilience and determination throughout this journey.

Not having a secure country to live in is a significant hardship for any refugee. What was even more challenging for me was never having my father with us and being split from my mother when I was just 14 years old. Since then, I have had to be strong and independent, make my own decisions, start a new life, work, and study without taking a break, even if I was exhausted.

All you can do when you have no one to turn to or to go back to is to look and move forward, and there are times when being strong is not a choice but the only option you have.

Nevertheless, I have always been grateful for my path since, without the events that have occurred, I would not be who I am now.

How does your personal resettlement experience inspire your daily work at SSI?

Sharing the same vision and values genuinely inspires me to work at SSI. As someone who has had the experience, I know how difficult it can be to settle in a new country. SSI substantially assists those from refugee backgrounds and those with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds with their resettlement and offers assistance to Australians in several areas. I received service with various resettlement-related issues when I first came to Australia, and now I want to lend a helping hand to others.

SSI is one of the best organisations I have ever seen for welcoming and helping those with refugee backgrounds. Unfortunately, refugees were not only not accepted in some of the nations where I’ve previously lived but were also severely discriminated against. So, I am happy to see refugees being supported and embraced by organisations like SSI in Australia.

Can you tell us about how you engage with community?

The aspect of Australia that I genuinely appreciate, and love is its multiculturalism. I enjoy connecting with various multicultural groups to establish connections and gain insights from their backgrounds. I participate in cultural gatherings and events whenever possible to socialise and expand my network. Moreover, I dedicate my time to volunteering with an Afghan-Australian community organisation based in Victoria.

Can you explain your volunteering and why you do it?

Upon my arrival in Australia, I received assistance from various agencies and organisations that helped me in my resettlement. This experience instilled in me a strong desire to contribute to the community and extend the same support to others I had received.

My volunteering journey commenced in August 2021, following the sad events in Afghanistan. Witnessing the fall of Afghanistan, I, like many Afghans, experienced profound sorrow. I was desperate to help Afghans in any way possible, but I was still determining how to go about it until I learned about the Bakhtar community organisation I am currently volunteering with. Recognising their efforts in assisting new arrivals, I realised that the least I could do for fellow Afghans was to extend my help to them here in Australia. I decided to reach out to Bakhtar after thorough research on the organisation. To assist new arrivals, the first thing that came to my mind was collecting new or gently used clothing and delivering them to the community for new arrivals. And it all started from there.

What would you say to your colleagues looking to get involved in volunteering/engaging with community?

I encourage anyone to get involved in volunteering. Volunteering and helping others are what brings satisfaction and happiness. If you are busy, do as little as possible because every little help counts. Sometimes life is unfair, and not everyone is as fortunate as others to be born in a safe country, have a roof over their head, or even have a meal to share with their families. As humans, we are responsible for holding other people’s hands and helping one another if we can.

We have a very famous poem in Farsi that says:

Human beings are members of a whole,

In the creation of one essence and soul.

If one member is afflicted with pain,

Other members uneasy will remain.

If you have no sympathy for human pain,

The name of a human you cannot retain.

– Saadi

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