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The Rugmaker of Mazar-E-Sharif

Insight Publications 2008
RRP: $24.95

Today’s Christians are faced with the challenge of understanding better, the faith and customs of Muslims who are a small minority in our country.

A charming yet confronting way to do so is to read this account by a Melbourne Afghan refugee of his life, his gruesome persecution and of his sustaining faith.

It is an inspiring story of optimism, goodness and thankfulness.

In the great oral tradition of the Hazara who were so often denied access to education, Najaf tells his story of life as a simple shepherd boy and a then a12 year old passionate apprentice rugmaker.

His Shia Muslim faith provides the whole framework and wisdom for life. It imbues every moment of his waking.

The reader/listener begins to understand the everyday life, the culture and relationships within the family and tribe and also the external evils of ethnic and religious fanaticism that destroy his home, his beloved family and community.

Nothing beats this personal story of why refugees leave the country and people they love.

Very troubling for Australians who did not know what was happening in immigration detention centres to the boat people who came here seeking peace and safe haven, is the sensitive and honest description of the toxic environment in Woomera. It was hell on earth.

Najaf survived the damaging detention experience to rebuild a life in Melbourne and be reunited with his wife and daughter after years of forced separation.

This book is a fine testament to a good man, a faithfull Muslim man, one of many who came to these shores and found a new life.

But it did not have to be so hard.

Frederika Steen is the volunteer Information Officer at the Romero Centre (Tel 07 3846 3250) , now in Dutton Park, which has provided a safety net of support under Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian refugees on Temporary Protection Visas from March 2000 onwards- refugees who were denied normal settlement services. Now under the auspice of the Sisters of Mercy, the community based Centre is faith-based and ecumenical and remains dependant on support mainly from religious orders, organisations and generous individuals. Donations are tax free.