Looking for a reason to continue living – Elaf’s story

On this rainy night, Gary decided to take a quick short cut through the park to reach home sooner. As he was walking past the park benches he could hear a woman crying and upon looking closer noticed a teary lady huddled up on one of the benches. He asked her if she was okay.

“I don’t have a place to sleep tonight”, she replied.

Gary learnt that her name was Elaf and she had to run away from home to escape her violent husband. This was not the first time. Noticing that she was wearing the Muslim Hijab, Gary offered to take her to a local Muslim community centre that he knew of, to try and seek some assistance.

On the way there, Gary found out that Elaf was a mother of 6 children. 4 of her younger ones were taken away from her care due to her not willing to leave her husband who was violent to both her & their children. But in the last couple of nights her husband was unusually aggressive and she had sent away her older 2 kids to her friends’ house & was hoping he would calm down by the morning. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse, and she had to run away to protect herself. Embarrassed to go to any friends for help, she decided to stay in the park until the morning.

When Gary & Elaf reached the community centre and he explained the situation, to his shock, they refused to help when they found out Gary wasn’t Muslim and started treating him as though he was responsible for Elaf’s condition. Elaf was frustrated as well and she told Gary “They’re all the same. They refuse to help and only push me from one place to another.”

Quite shocked & perplexed, the next option Gary thought of was the local church. On his way out, he noticed a poster on the wall of the centre offering help to anyone who needed it; a poster by the National Zakat Foundation Australia. He called up the 1300 number and the NZF case worker asked to speak to Elaf to understand her situation. Initially Elaf was hesitant to explain her circumstances, expecting NZF to be similar to other organisations and not really offer any help. She was taken aback when the kind lady on the other end told her that NZF would be able to provide her with immediate accommodation for the same night at one of their crisis accommodation centres.

Within NZF, our case officer who received the call immediately contacted the local team to arrange for Elaf to be picked up and we had her settled in our crisis accommodation centre in a couple of hours. Through talking to Elaf we understood that the past few years had taken a severe toll on her mentallly and she was extremely unstable and had attempted suicide multiple times. She spoke about how her friends & the community were unwilling to accept that she was struggling mentally, and seemed to always blame her family falling apart on her, despite her husband being the violent one. For some reason she was always to blame and she had past the tipping point where she could not handle speaking to any of them before. With her kids being taken away from her, Elaf was really struggling to find a reason to continue living.

We will work with Elaf to initially to address her mental health and insha Allah gradually will assist her on getting back up on her feet and being reunited with her children. Elaf is our sister, right here in Australia, and it is our duty to assist & protect her.