Bushfire appeal inspires young Afghan refugee who lost family in terror attack to dig deep

By Shamsiya Mohammadi


January 27, 2020 12:54:24

Murtaza Hussain knows what it is like to go through tragedy, after his mother and brother were killed in a suicide bombing in Pakistan eight years ago.

Key points:

  • Murtaza moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan and then Australia in 2013
  • He is donating his savings to the SA bushfire appeal to help victims who have lost their homes
  • The donation is part of about $50,000 raised by the Afghan Hazara community

But the 11-year-old Afghan refugee is now doing what he can to help his community.

Murtaza has donated every cent of the pocket money he saved since his family arrived in Australia seven years ago to victims of South Australia’s recent bushfire disasters.

The boy from Elizabeth East in Adelaide’s north lost his older brother and mother in a terrorist attack in Quetta in Pakistan in 2012, about six months before his family were set to reunite with his father.

His traumatic experiences at a young age have helped instil a strong sense of compassion.

“I really wanted to help as much as I could because people in Australia were losing their homes, their lives, animals were going endangered, plants and trees were burning,” Murtaza said.

“A really big natural disaster was happening and I didn’t want it to continue.

“I want to thank all the firefighters who couldn’t spend time with their families, who were just out there risking their lives to save this nation.

“I wish I was a bit older so I could be a firefighter and stop the fires.”

In order to donate, Murtaza broke his piggy bank which he had kept since he was four years old.

He carried a bag containing $204 in coins to the Wali-e-Asr Centre, where the South Australian Afghan Hazara community met to fundraise for the state’s bushfire appeal.

“If something like this happened to us and people didn’t care, we’d be sad, so I don’t want the people who’ve lost their homes to feel like that,” he said.

“I think I should be proud of myself right now but I would’ve given more if I had, so I’m not fully proud of myself yet … I’m halfway there.”

Murtaza’s father, Mohammad Hussain, is the sole provider for his four children.

“I would give him a dollar or two a day, sometimes even fifty or twenty cents,” he said.

“Every time he does well at school and brings home certificates, I try to encourage him by awarding him with more money and he would put it straight in his piggy bank.”

Mr Hussain described Murtaza, who is the youngest of his siblings, as a very bright and loving child.

“He’s always been very compassionate … sometimes when we’re driving around, he makes me stop the car to pick up rubbish he sees on the streets, saying it is bad for the environment,” Mr Hussain said.

“At his age, he tells me not to worry about things … I am very proud of him.”

‘It is our responsibility to help the community’

However, the family’s loss seven years ago is something they still battle with.

“It was very difficult at the time, it’s still very difficult … every incident we hear about is painful for us, because we have experienced what it’s like ourselves,” he said.

“It is our responsibility as humans to do anything we can to help the community, to celebrate people’s happiness and share their pain during the hard times.”

Murtaza’s donation is part of about $50,000 raised by the Afghan Hazara community which has also registered over 80 volunteers to help clean and recover bushfire-affected areas across the state.

Community leader Hussain Razaiat has been among the individuals leading the fundraising campaign.

“Everyone was really overwhelmed by Murtaza’s action,” Mr Razaiat said.

“It is a testimony that he knows the pain, he knows the loss and he knows how painful it is to suffer from losing your loved ones.

“Therefore, I believe it comes from his heart and he can be a role model for all of us.”

As the fundraising campaign continues, the community is hoping to raise more money in the coming weeks.
















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