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Dream of flying comes closer to reality for Somayeh

Schools

Like a lot of young children, Somayeh Ahmadi dreamed of learning how to fly when she was growing up in Iran.

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But her reason for wanting to fly was so she could rescue her father who was in a refugee camp in Indonesia.

While she hasn’t fulfilled her dream of becoming a pilot yet, the Year 12 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College student did get a taste of aviation life after being selected for a Royal Australian Air Force Aviation Camp this year.

Somayeh’s moving application to participate in the camp referred to her early interest in becoming a pilot.

“My dream as a child was to learn how to fly so that I could go and rescue my dad and I still remember that today,” she wrote.

“As an Afghan student in Iran there were many restrictions on schooling and opportunity was limited.

“We had a school visit from some soldiers who came to inspire younger children and we saw images and models of planes.

“I was inspired but was told that girls couldn’t become pilots and at that point I knew I wanted to aim for exactly that.”

Somayeh told The Southern Cross that for many years she and her family lost contact with her father.

Occasionally they would speak to him on the phone, but they didn’t know where he was or how to find him.

The rest of the family – Somayeh, her mother and two brothers – arrived in Australia on December 30 2013, after her father’s brother helped make arrangements for them to leave Iran, including health checks, passports and visas. Her father arrived a year later.

“The journey for my father was a lot more difficult and he was detained in a refugee camp for four years,” she said.

“I remember when he arrived at Adelaide Airport, it was night time.

“We all cried when we saw him, it was very emotional.”

Somayeh said it was difficult for Afghan people living in Iran and young people were restricted from going to school and had limited opportunities.

She was only 13 when the family came to Australia and despite the initial problem of not speaking English, she is very grateful for the life she has here.

When her teacher told her about the aviation camp, Somayeh didn’t hesitate to apply and her parents were supportive. “My dad encourages us to make the most of experiences that he did not have when he was growing up,” she said.

During the four day camp participants toured the base, went inside an aircraft and learned about military vehicles, weapons, training, job roles and entry requirements.

Somayeh also took part in a physical training session to gain awareness of fitness requirements for the Air Force and heard from a number of inspirational females who supported her aspirations for a future in the Defence Force.

“It was fabulous, amazing,” she said.

“It felt like I was dreaming.

“I did not believe it, that I had reached this stage in a dream that I had for my future.

“I am very grateful for the all the opportunities that they have given us.”

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