Survival to sanctuary: '(TAFE) changed my life'

Finding new life: Yazidi-Wagga woman Wafra Hamka's life was thrust into chaos when she and her family fled a civil-war-plagued Iraq, to find asylum in Wagga. Picture: Supplied
Finding new life: Yazidi-Wagga woman Wafra Hamka's life was thrust into chaos when she and her family fled a civil-war-plagued Iraq, to find asylum in Wagga. Picture: Supplied

For years, merciless civil war hurled Wafra Hamka’s life into chaos and confusion.

That was before her family arrived in Wagga. 

The young Yazidi-Wagga woman was still a teenager when Islamic State (IS) forces attacked and captured the Northern Iraq cities of Mosul and Fallujah, sparking her family’s voyage of survival. 

The Hamka family were among a generation left with little choice but to flee when they were targeted as part of the Yazidi genocide. 

In 2014, they made the heart-breaking decision to abandon home and run. 

Following a harrowing two years as refugees, Wafra and her family were living in a drab unit in Turkey before being thrown a lifeline. 

It was August 2016 when Wafra learned Australia would be her new home. 

Since the day she arrived, the 21-year-old made it her mission to learn the language and culture of the alien country. 

Enrolling in a Certificate II in Spoken and Written English at TAFE, Wafra has graduated and already taken the next step to a certificate III. 

“(TAFE) changed my life,” Wafra said. “They don’t just teach me English, they teach me about Australian culture and about how to do things like introduce yourself to people.”

The 21-year-old now works as a bilingual education support officer, interpreting for those in the same position she was in last year.

Having been denied the opportunity to complete her formal education in Iraq, Wafra said she hoped to continue her schooling here too. 

TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Kerry Penton said TAFE was a beacon of hope for many people like Wafra.

“We are extremely proud of the role we play in helping both new arrivals and local residents learn the skills to transform their lives,” Mrs Penton said.