A story of a refugee’s journey
On Sunday 21st of March 2021, the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC unveiled the Welcome Wall and declared it as Australia’s National Monument to Migration.
The Welcome Wall located in Darling Harbour, Sydney is one of the Australian National Maritime Museum’s most important and visible tributes to migration heritage. The Wall honours and celebrates all who have migrated from around the world to live in Australia. Currently there are over 30,000 names on the Welcome Wall with representation from over 129 countries.
Kevin Sumption, Director and CEO of the museum said, ‘The Welcome Wall honours the migrants who have helped shape our nation and, collectively, their stories speak to who we are as a nation. It is a celebration of multicultural Australia.
The Museum collects the stories of migrants to Australia and is one of our most important and visible ways of recognising the people behind these stories. One such story is that of Ashak and Samim Nathwani, and their Australian-born children Amyn and Rehana who were among the first Ismaili settlers in Australia in 1972 and whose names are featured on the Welcome Wall. Invited to speak at the unveiling ceremony, Ashak Nathwani reflects on his journey:
“On 10th October 1972, Shiraz, my brother, Samim and I arrived as refugees with only 20 cents in our pockets having lost all our possessions and wealth. However, our education could not be taken away. Hence pursing best in education in Australia became our ethos…
Since arriving in Australia we have been extremely fortunate to make lasting friendships and meaningful relationships with people from various backgrounds. Australia indeed is a shining example of a true pluralistic and multicultural society. And it is in this light that there are numerous individuals and families to whom we offer our sincere gratitude for the support, assistance and guidance over the past 48 years. Thank you for letting us ‘call Australia home’.”
Ashak Nathwani AM has had an incredible journey of refugee settlement from Uganda; passionate contribution to the Ismaili community as well as engagement within the wider Australian community, all the while achieving significant professional milestones. This journey has earned him the Order of Australia “significant service to the Ismaili Community in Australia, to tertiary education in the area of sustainable design and in engineering” in 2017.
As with many of the Ismaili settlers who came to Australia from East Africa as immigrants or refugees in the early 70’s, the priority was to not only make Australia home but to be a contributing member of society. This is underpinned by the Ismaili ethic of lifelong learning and service to improve the quality of life of all.
Other Ismaili recipients of notable awards and recognition can be found at https://the.ismaili/anz/our-proud-achievers-australia-new-zealand-papua-new-guinea
The immigration story of the Ismaili Muslims to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea continued as the second wave of immigrants came in the 1980’s – 1990’s from India, Pakistan and Iran settling in many of the major cities and making significant contribution to the societies in which they live. More recently, Ismailis arrived from Syria and Tajikistan creating a multicultural community united by faith and shared values. We look forward to our ongoing journey of pluralism and opportunities to enrich Australian and New Zealand society, with optimism and aspiration as the youth of our community take up prominent positions in Finance, Health, Information Technology, Academia, Government and Entrepreneurship.