Rajab Zahedi was born into a farming family in Afghanistan in 1962. When he was a teenager his family moved into the capital Kabul. He was returning from the market one day in 1978 when he was forcibly conscripted into the army.
Everywhere were soldiers and checkpoints. They were catching the people especially the young people… They threw me in the back of the jungle truck and took me to the military base to send me to fight with the Russians, with the mujahideen.
Luckily, his brother, a military doctor, was able to have him released. Fearing for his safety his family smuggled him back to his village, hidden within a produce truck. From there he escaped over the border into Pakistan. He spent many years there and in Iran seeking education before returning home.
Despite lacking formal training, he worked as a schoolteacher and then with his brother in a medical practice. He then returned to Pakistan and began translating for various aid organisations. This led to him working as a translator for Australian and US army forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2014. His position placed both himself and his family in danger. They lived over the border in Pakistan for security, but bombings and rocket attacks were frequent.
After many difficulties, Rajab and his family were granted visas and arrived in Australia in 2015. They are now living in Dandenong.
…all my children were happy… now they are safe from all terrorists in different names.
Reproduced courtesy of Rajab Zahedi
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Reviewed 24 April 2023