Afghan-born Hazara Kbora Ali is the first Afghan to join the Australian army
Kbora Ali, an Afghan-born Hazara lived and strived through many difficulties, from living in Afghanistan during the Taliban to migrating to a foreign country without knowing a single word of the country’s language, English. Despite the mountains she’s climbed she has now faced her biggest challenge yet: joining the army.
Kbora’s father, Sultan Ali, was the first of the Ali family to flee from Afghanistan. His choice to leave was based on his hope and search for a better life for his family, an education for his children, a future. “There was no school for my children to go to… it was during the Taliban,” Sultan told SBS.
The rest of Sultan’s family who remained in Afghanistan followed his journey to Australia, initially going to Pakistan where they were seeking asylum which was granted after having lived there for three to four years. In 2007 they finally began their move to Australia, embarking upon a new journey full of surprises.
Kbora, the youngest of her family, remembers little of the experience and travels to Australia; she was only nine at the time, however, she recalls being confused and beginning to feel rather homesick. “I was really homesick for the first five, six months,” she said.
Only 3 days before the commencement of basic training, Kbora had finally decided to inform her parents of her choice of career path. Sultan was less supportive of the idea of his youngest daughter becoming a recruit for the Australian army; he had experienced being away from his family and was familiar with the effects that this has had on him and thus understanding the difficulty of having such limited contact with family which Kbora will have to experience while away on training.
Only 18 years young, Kbora has had to face the many physical and emotional struggles that have come with her decision to begin training as a recruit for the Australian army; with hours of enduring physical exercise in the early hours of the morning, and being away from her family with very little contact time at such a young age. She is only able to keep in contact with her loved ones through sending letters and using her phone for up to two hours per week.
But this is not all. Being an Afghan girl, she has faced other challenges such as coping with societal expectation. She has gained exceptional marks at school and could have gone to some of the top universities in Australia, yet she chose to challenge societal norms. Kbora endeavoured through the challenge of being in a new country, learning a language and adapting to a new way of life, but with all of this, she still managed to excel in school exceeding what might’ve been expected of her, show the true fighter she is.
The Hazaras had once constituted about 67% of Afghanistan’s entire population, but tragically “more than half were massacred in 1893 when their autonomy was lost as a result of political action” according to Minority Rights Group International. There is historical discrimination against the Hazaras, particularly during the sovereignty of Amir Abdul Rahman from 1880 to 1901. The Hazaras “were the first ethnic group to revolt against his expansionism”. Unfortunately, this led to devastating results where “thousands of Hazara men were killed, their women and children taken as slaves and their land occupied” according to Minority Rights Group International.
Kbora, whose mother was a former nurse in Afghanistan, is “looking into a future with the medical corps while moving up the ranks”. She currently operates as an administrative clerk based in the unit which “provides medical support to the Army’s 3rd brigade”.