Community bands together to reunite Afghan couple
“Like going from a horror movie to a place that is green”. That’s how Abdulhaq Bakhshi, known as Haris, described the moment his wife Muzhgan Marzi finally arrived in Australia after escaping Kabul and then finding herself stuck in Pakistan.
Haris spoke about the couple’s experience today while visiting Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie to thank her for her advocacy with immigration and embassy officials so he could be reunited with Muzhgan after years of waiting for their visa approval.
“It’s a big relief and I would like to thank Rebekha Sharkie and the members of her team for their help,” Haris said.
“There were a few times when I thought the application was going to fail and my biggest fear was that she would live in Afghanistan and at any time circumstances can change so that was my big concern.
“Now I feel like I have a family and I am not alone …. It’s like going from a horror movie to a place that is green.”
Haris lives in Para Hills West but for the past seven years, he has worked for Mayo resident Steve Norton at the Dry Creek-based business Croplands.
Steve says he has never seen an employee with a work ethic like Haris, who had been working weekends and after hours for years to build a home for his wife while he waited for her immigration application to be approved.
“Haris has been waiting for three years to bring Muzhgan to Australia, but when the Australian embassy pulled out of Afghanistan, we realised that the situation had become very urgent," Steve said.
"We felt we needed to contact somebody to try and cut through the bureaucracy and try and accelerate the process and so the first place I turned was to my local MP Rebekha Sharkie and we were lucky enough to find some people who cared.
“Haris has shown a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment to the company and he is obviously very committed to his wife to have led the life he has and to have had the patience he has with the Australian Government and its processes.
“To be able to support him and his ultimate goal of starting a family in Australia is something that has been a pleasure to support.”
Haris first applied for a 309 visa for his wife Muzhgan in July 2018. The couple had met in Afghanistan and were formally engaged before Harris immigrated to Australia.
Haris later travelled to Pakistan for their wedding and Muzhgan returned to Afghanistan to wait on the outcome of her visa application.
Australia completed its formal troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in late June ahead of the United States’ final troop withdrawal in late August.
Steve first reached out to Rebekha’s office in July 2021 to assist Haris’ attempts to get Muzhgan’s visa application approved.
“Steve was deeply concerned for Muzhgan’s safety given the dangerous situation unfolding in Kabul, and my team and I were also really concerned so we did everything we could to advocate on her behalf,” Rebekha said.
“Hats off to my team for their persistence with the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian High Commission and embassy officials overseas and I would like to thank the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke for taking heed of my correspondence.
“We managed to find out that a temporary protection visa was granted to Muzhgan in late August, and we were able to get that information to Haris so he could get his wife to Pakistan as soon as possible before working with the Australian High Commission in Islamabad to expedite a flight for Muzhgan to Australia in November.
“Muzhgan has only recently finished her quarantine requirements and so I am really touched that one of their priorities was to come along with Steve to our office to say thank you.
“Sadly, not every Afghan national seeking refuge in Australia has been able to make it out of Kabul but the reunion of Haris and Muzhgan just warms your soul.
“Haris has made good friends in Australia and it’s a tribute to him that Steve and his employers have gone above and beyond to help him bring Muzhgan home.”
Photo: Rebekha with Muzhgan Marzi and Abdulhaq Bakhshi (Haris) after the couple were reunited in Australia.