• The Khan family in Sydney. (Supplied )Source: Supplied
“That day (I came to Australia) I was the happiest person on the planet you can say. Finally we are somewhere we can start a new life, we can build something."
Sarah Malik

4 Oct 2018 - 10:06 PM  UPDATED 5 Oct 2018 - 2:02 PM

Australia first met the Khan family in 2012. 

Ali and his wife Sahra, refugees from Afghanistan, had been living in Indonesia for five years, with no work rights or access to education for their young children Fatemah and Ahad.

Ali had attempted to get to Australia by boat twice and had received ten months imprisonment for his last attempt to cross the ocean.

"First time I go...all are scared, the baby, the women, very scared," he told Peter Reith who was joined by media personalities Catherine Deveny and Angry Anderson as participants on season two of SBS show Go Back To Where You Came From, aimed at giving Australians a better understanding of the refugee crisis. 

The family had been granted refugee status by the UNHCR, but the waiting for a visa, was wearing them down.

Ali was willing to make another journey by boat to Australia with his family, despite having narrowly escaped the perils of travelling on a crammed boat that had broken apart after 35 minutes at sea.  

“Now I’m crazy, because five years I’m waiting. The UNHCR don’t answer me. Just tell me - you, wait wait wait. Yeah of course I try (again),”  Ali told Reith, a former defence minister in the Howard government.


As it turns out, the Khan family didn't need to attempt a third boat journey and six years later, they are living in Western Sydney after being granted a humanitarian visa in 2013. 

“That day I was the happiest person on the planet you can say. Finally we are somewhere we can start a new life, we can build something,” 16-year-old Fatemah said. 

“I love school so much. It’s just fun. Meeting your teachers, studying and being with your friends, it’s all just a experience for me."

Ali works as a painter and Sahra is a seamstress. Both are proud of the progress their kids have made. 

“Future of my kids is already guaranteed because they’re studying. If they studied well they can get a good future for themselves and we as parents did a good job,” Sahra said. 


Watch 'Go Back To Where You Came From Live' on SBS On Demand. 

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