Rural Women New Zealand chooses a country of study each year, and in 2015 it is Afghanistan.
A young Afghani women Lima Maywand, flew from the Auckland to speak to Awana Rural Women members at their June meeting on Great Barrier Island.
It was Lima’s first trip out of Auckland since she arrived in NZ 12 years ago at the age of eight. She told the 18 Rural Women members and nine guests
about how her family came to NZ and the challenges of both getting out of Afghanistan and migrating to a new country and culture.
Lima was lucky, her NZ based uncle found her family in a refugee camp in Pakistan where Lima and her family had lived for 4 years. Lima, her brother, mother
and father all came to NZ but her father, a surgeon, could not cope with being unable to practice as a doctor and went back to Afghanistan and to his
Lima’s mother found leaving her homeland difficult but Lima has thrived and after being very successful at Rutherford High School (she was a prefect) is
now doing a degree in psychology at Weltec. She hopes to work in prisons in the future and in particular with Middle Eastern men in prison.
Lima spoke about the customs, culture and food in Afghanistan. She was particularly enthusiastic about the beautiful clothes worn on special occasions
and the diet which is rich in meat and rice. She also spoke very movingly about the contrast between the Afghanistan her mother knew and the Afghanistan
of today. Women no longer have the freedom to dress as they choose and must be fully covered in public, the beauty of cities has been destroyed, and
education is now minimal and for women, rare. Lima said many refugees are waiting for the country to change so they can return but she feels like –
and is - a Kiwi and is fully appreciative of what our country can offer.
Lima was a very impressive young woman and open to the many questions the audience asked. The discussion continued with Marion Snow talking about her niece
who was a volunteer worker in Afghanistan, and Ngaire Avery talking about her time in Afghanistan. Ngaire also brought along the clothing worn by women
in the home and Awana Rural Women members made posters of various aspects of Afghanistan.
Thanks to the Office of Ethnic Affairs which found Lima to come and talk to us and the Northern Region of Rural Women paid for her airfare. Awana Rural
Women on the Island hosted Lima overnight and took her touring around the Island.
Pictured are LIma Maywand and Gendie Somerville-Ryan