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Give and let live

4 May 2017

In September 2000, a then seven-year-old Safa Rahimi flew into Sydney Airport. The Rahimi family (which includes four daughters and one son) had spent the last eight years living in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan.

Safa Rahimi. Image: Kevin Cheung
Safa Rahimi. Image: Kevin Cheung

“Thinking back on it,” recalls Rahimi, “coming here was very, very shocking. It was so different from what we had experienced in Pakistan. We didn't know where to begin or what to do.”

Rahimi and her family, with help from her father’s brother, settled in Western Sydney. Her mother, a paediatrician, stayed home to raise the children while her father, an optometrist, went back to work.

Fast forward to 2011 and Rahimi began studying social inquiry and law at UTS. “My parents, at that stage, were retired and I didn't want to rely on them financially, so I started working quite long hours.”

By early 2015, Rahimi was not only studying full-time, but working part-time in the personal injury department of a private law firm, working weekends at Officeworks, interning at Immigrant Women's Speakout Association and volunteering at the Australian Refugee Volunteers.

“It did take a toll on my mental health and also my physical health,” admits Rahimi. “So I thought I should probably get some help.”

With encouragement from a friend, Rahimi applied for the UTS Alumni Scholarship and her application was successful. “It was just a massive weight off my shoulders,” she reveals.

Not only did the scholarship help Rahimi pay for text books and reading materials, but “it made me step back from work for a while and just concentrate on uni.” She was even able to undertake an additional teaching session for honours in law.

Rahimi says, “There are a lot of students who are struggling to go thorough university not because they don't want to be there, but because they're so worried about how they're going to buy textbooks or travel or buy laptops or notebooks or pens.”

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