Mr Wahidi and Mrs Wahidi with their children, Hon Iain Lees Galloway, MP for Palmerston North (third left), Shugofa Wahini and Lorna Johnson (right), Manawatu Reuniting Refugee Families Trust Chair, at World Refugee Day celebrations, 23 June. Mr Wahidi told Lorna the family are happy to be here and expressed his thanks to everyone who has helped them.
Mr Wahidi and Mrs Wahidi arrived in Palmerston North with their two preschool children in June this year – tired but safe and sound. They had flown from Kabul to Auckland via Delhi to join Mr Wahidi’s sister, Shugofa. As a former refugee, Shugofa had applied to the Manawatu Reuniting Refugee Families Trust last year for financial assistance to bring the family to join her in Palmerston North.
Mr Wahidi, a lawyer, and his wife, a medical student, have come to New Zealand with their children under the Refugee Family Support Category – Tier One.
Shugofa last saw her brother 19 years ago when she was 18 but they lost touch. Since then Shugofa married, has been raising her children on her own, and making herself a home in this ‘new’ country.
Shugofa found her brother again after many years through the help of Red Cross. They introduced her to the ‘wonders of Facebook’ when she gave them the names of all her family members. They found her brother and his family, alive and well and able to be contacted. Shugofa was determined to do all she could to get them from Kabul, with all its dangers especially the suicide bombers, and away to New Zealand to live peacefully with her.
When I visited the family I was warmly welcomed as we sat down to enjoy cake and green tea. Mr Wahidi, who speaks fluent English, said the family is very happy settling into New Zealand. Shugofa, who has three children, said having her brother and his wife helping her with childcare, getting her children to and from school and knowing they are safe has been ‘a relief’.
As I left the family, I was touched to see Shugofa’s daughter had arranged my shoes neatly facing the right direction for me to put on.
New Zealand now has these two new future citizens who will contribute to our society and, with their children, provide hope for a peaceful and fruitful future. The family said they would like to repay the Trust once they are able to do so.
The Manawatu Reuniting Refugee Families Trust is grateful to the Catholic Diocese of Palmerston North for its substantial financial support. To donate to the Trust, go to the give-a-little-page at https://givealittle.co.nz/org/manawaturrft