Journey from Iraq War tragedy to new home in Australia

NEW HOME: Tamara Sobi and her mother Vivian Admo visit the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre park for morning tea on Monday.
NEW HOME: Tamara Sobi and her mother Vivian Admo visit the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre park for morning tea on Monday.

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After Vivian Admo’s husband was kidnapped while she was pregnant, she felt she had no choice but to flee her home country.

On a visit to the Bega Valley with her now nine-year-old daughter Tamara Sobi and about 30 other refugees from Iraq, she shared her tragic story.  

Her husband was taken from his job at an airport in 2008, after the Iraq War had started.

“We went to the police station, we tried to find him, but we couldn’t find anything,” Ms Admo said.

“That has happened to many friends, not just me.

“After that I felt scared and was pregnant with my youngest daughter, so we went to the United Nations in Syria.”

After five-and-a-half years she was granted a visa to come to Australia, arriving in 2014.

“At first it was a little bit difficult and hard,” the 43-year-old said.

“I didn’t know the language and didn’t know where to go because I didn’t know areas and places.

“But after that it became better.” 

After studying English and attending TAFE, she is now working for Woolworths in Sydney. Tamara attends Smithfield Public School and Ms Admo’s older daughter is studying at the University of Technology Sydney. 

“I’m happy they [the United Nations] chose this country as it’s safe and everything is good here,” Ms Admo said.

“Me and my daughters are happy.” 

As part of a trip organised by the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast with Smithfield Public School, the 30 refugees from six different families were taken to see some of the sights of the Bega Valley over the weekend of July 13-16. 

“Most of these families have never left Sydney,” one of the organisers Julia Enders said. 

“So it’s the first time for them to come into this kind of environment.” 

She said some of the refugees have been in the country for one year, others for up to four years. 

All the refugee children attend Smithfield Public and Ms Enders said it was her hope the visit would give them some life experience, so they can learn more about Australia. 

“It’s gone fabulously well, everyone had big smiles,” she said. 

“It was the trip of a lifetime for them. The community involvement down here has been fantastic.”

Six families from the Bega Valley hosted the refugees during their stay.

Arriving on July 13 in Merimbula, over the weekend they had fish and chips in Eden, went to the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre and Killer Whale Museum, attended the Bundian Way ampitheatre for a Welcome to Country, visited the Bournda Environmental Education Centre and On The Perch before going to the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre and a farm on Monday. 

“It is our first trip here in Australia,” Ms Admo said. 

“I was very excited and happy.” 

Tamara said she also had enjoyed the visit. 

“My favourite part was when I got to feed the kangaroos,” she said.