|Tara Fatehi and the Governor General of South Australia at the Multicultural Awards in 2013. |
Photo courtesy of Tara Fatehi
TORONTO — At just 24, Tara Fatehi has emerged as a passionate advocate for Kurdish youth and women in Australia as well as one of the top young community organizers in southern Australia.
Born in Sina in Iranian Kurdistan, Fatehi was 3 years old when her family immigrated to Australia. Growing up in the city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, she saw how the most talented and successful Kurds raised in the Diaspora were isolated and had little support. The least fortunate ones became involved in gangs, ended up in jails or were killed on the streets.
“We had a community that was drifting further apart and a youth community that was becoming very detached and disconnected with their roots. In the process an entire community of talented and mindful Kurds were losing their voices to become advocates for their own rights,” Fatehi told Rudaw in an email interview.
The community’s challenges inspired her to establish the Adelaide Kurdish Youth Society to connect the Kurds in Adelaide and in Australia. The organization promotes empowerment, leadership skills, health, education and social justice “to give the youth a chance to lead the community in preserving and promoting the Kurdish culture and identity.”
Fatehi, a medical student focusing on women’s health, also co-founded the Kurdish Health Project and works for a number of other charities. In 2014 she was awarded State Finalist for Young Australian of the Year.
Fatehi is a vocal advocate for Kurds, and raises the Kurdish flag in public events. Still, organizing immigrants — as well as pressing women’s issues — has been challenging both inside and outside of the Kurdish community.
“I knew going into it that I had to give it my all,” she said. “I had accepted that I would probably become very isolated and criticized with everything we tried to do but I just knew it had to be done.”
Fatehi’s medical research focuses on Kurdish women’s health issues such as childbirth, but also more controversial topics such as suicide and female genital mutilation.
“Medicine for me was a passion because my biggest goal in life was to make a difference to as many lives as I could in the small amount of time that I have,” she said. “I passionately believe that if a nation, society or community has good health, they have the necessary means (like education) to fight for their own selves and communities.”
About 10 years ago, Fatehi visited Iranian Kurdistan. As she climbed the Awyar Mountain of Sina, she had an epiphany, a moment that she felt she discovered her purpose in life.
“I had the most life-changing experience and learnt a lot that I sometimes wish I never knew,” she said. “I walked up right from the town center to the top of Awyar and while looking over Kurdistan and its beauty, I was faced with the glorious mountain tops of Kurdistan crying for freedom. It was then and there I promised my mountains that I would dedicate my life to them. No matter where I was, what I was doing, I would be doing it for them.”
Fatehi, who said she wants to one day return to work in Kurdistan, strongly identifies with Kurdish women and their long history of sacrifice.
“I come from a nation of lionesses, women who have fought generations hostility towards their gender and their ethnicities,” she said. “I come from a country of angels of women and girls who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their fight and for my right to be a woman. That plays in all my work. I am only a daughter and sister of female warriors.”
Politics, medicine, and gender issues intersect in Fatehi’s life. They are inseparable, too intertwined to be distinguished.
“I believe politics is involved in everything that we do, whether we know it or not. For me politics is my way of being involved in the decision making of my world in relation to all things that affect the Kurds and Kurdistan. It is my way of understanding decisions made in the past, present and future. It goes hand in hand with my passion for social justice and international campaigning for the Kurdish cause.”
Her father once told her that “being Kurdish itself was a political statement.”
Despite her achievements and awards, Fateh doesn’t see herself “as an activist or anything other than simply a Kurd. I will work the rest of my life to serve my people,” she said.
Although they are scattered geographically, Fatehi feels she is part of the global Kurdish community of professionals, artists, writers and activists who contribute to the Kurdish cause.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be part of a generation of both Diaspora and homeland Kurdish youth that have taken to the books and the minds of people to fight for their nation,” she said. “I know Kurdistan is in good hands. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I cannot stress enough: every little bit counts. Just. Keep. Going.”
This article was originally published in http://rudaw.net/english/world/21062014