REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia:When home ownership is beyond a dream

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Five-year-old Dima Smoki with her parents Khalaf Smoki and Layla Mahmod. Photo: Les Smith

Five-year-old Dima Smoki with her parents Khalaf Smoki and Layla Mahmod. Photo: Les Smith

Sometimes there's just a need to exhale and just let some good vibes wash over you. And the tale of one family now based in Wagga did just that.

Khalaf Smoki and Layla Mahmod are Yazidi Iraqis.

Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority settled largely in the heartland of north-west Iraq before ISIL incursion in 2014. Their belief combines elements of several ancient Middle Eastern religions.

The family was forced to flee their home in Iraq for a refugee camp in Turkey, where they lived in a tent while Dima was a baby.

The Australian government resettled the family in Wagga as refugees three years ago. They arrived without any English or connections to the community.

Their saviour, among many, was Google Translate. And a random meeting with Wagga couple Bruce Leary and Helen O'Connell. They soon developed into "a second mother and father" to the Smoki-Mahmod family.

After two years of hard work in Wagga the family's crowning moment came only recently - they bought a house. Roots - roots made of bricks and mortar attached the family to their adopted country.

It is all the more significant for them as even before the genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State began in 2014, the religious minority could not put their name to any legal documents in Iraq.

"This is a big day for the Smoki family, because this is the first time we have a house on our name," Mr Smoki told the Daily Advertiser's subscribers.

So while the Australian property market continues through its usual peaks and troughs, and investors celebrate swollen demand for homes in regional cities post-pandemic, there are stories beyond the economic to celebrate, too.

It's not just the NSW Riverina where the goals are being kicked on this front. For instance, in Newcastle there's a community program aimed at helping young migrants and refugees learn to navigate the region's beaches while in Victoria one group continues its mission to refugees.

Bendigo's Rural Australians for Refugees group is raising money to resettle asylum seekers from Nauru to Canada - and they have a particularly relevant "selling point".

"We're hoping that people might be more sympathetic after being locked in their houses for months," the group's Helen Musk said. "They might have more sympathy for these people who have been locked in detention for seven years where there seems to be no hope of the government doing anything."

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