Since the last production update we have been filming in Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra.

In Melbourne we have filmed with Michael Aboujundi and done further filming with Najaf Mazari and Amin Sherzad. Their profiles can all be found here.

We have also begun filming with Parviz Avesta, a young man who experienced 3 years in the Curtin detention centre from the age of 15, at the height of the self-harm and protests that occurred there in 2001-2. Parviz is now married and has developed a successful tiling business which he is working hard to expand.

Michael – we have filmed with Michael working as the Residents Advocate on the public housing estate where he lives; helping his Australian ‘mum’ with her shopping; and at home with his garden and cats. Michael has had awful news from Syria during the fighting there but continues to focus on the needs of his local community.

Najaf – our filming with Najaf has included working at his rug shop in Prahran and giving a presentation on his development work in Afghanistan to year 9 boys at Trinity Grammar School.

Amin – having filmed with Amin at work with his tow truck we went to his home to hear his story as a ‘Tampa boy’ and meet his little daughter.

Parviz  – we have done some initial filming with Parviz at work and will be visiting his home in Doncaster. Work is very important to Parviz as it helps him to put aside memories of what he went through as a teenager in Curtin.

In Adelaide we have filmed with Ferial Al Khil Khali, the Shoari family and Reyhana Akhy. Their profiles can all be found here.

Ferial – as well as filming with Ferial at the Migrant Resource Centre, where she works, we filmed with the Iraqi women’s sewing group that she runs. On this occasion Ferial was teaching the women Aboriginal basket weaving techniques, which she learnt on an MRC camp with indigenous women. Her daughter Fatin was there too. Fatin is currently studying for her PhD in social work.

Shoari family – filming so far has included Hamid playing soccer for the Adelaide Cobras, and Sheri showing off her recently attained Heavy Vehicle Licence, which she hopes will allow her to become a bus driver soon. We spent a lovely day at the Shoari household, with great Iranian cooking; conversations with Sheri, Hamid and Mohamed; and Sheri looking after her third son, Ali, who has cerebral palsy. We met Hamid’s new fiance, Jennifer, and heard about Mohamed’s studies and interest in philosophy.

Reyhana – We filmed Reyhana at her computer, discussing her personal blog, cooking with her daughter Mariam, and exercising in the back yard. We also filmed a conversation with Reyhana and Mariam during which they showed us cards and letters sent to them in detention at Woomera by refugee supporters and which they have treasured ever since.

In Canberra we have done some further filming with Mustafa Jawadi, prior to his departure on an overseas trip for 3 months. Mustafa’s profile can also be found here.

Mustafa – despite our heavily delayed arrival in Canberra because of fog we managed to get some filming in, including a visit to the SIEV X Memorial. This is a link between Mus and I because of Hope and the fact that he helped to ‘plant’ the memorial poles at the site. The boat Mus and his family were on also went down with the loss of two lives, so the SIEV X disaster has particular resonance for him as one of the ‘lucky ones’. We also filmed at Mus’s new house, including feeding his chooks with his little brother Amir, who was born in detention on Nauru.

All of this filming has left me with an overwhelming impression of the resilience of the people we are working with and their determination to make good lives in Australia and contribute to their new country. Despite the suffering many of them experienced in detention, and by which they remain affected in various ways, one senses a prevailing attitude that ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. This is a humbling lesson for us as filmmakers and I appreciate the work of producer Lisa Horler and the cinematographers involved (Phil Bull, Jenni Meaney and Peter Zakharov) as well as our participants for helping to bring this to life on film.

Steve Thomas.