2 Mar 2017

The Joy Project: Frozan Esmati

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From THE JOY PROJECT, 10:02 am on 2 March 2017

Frozan Esmati, 34, is a clinical psychologist for Refugees as Survivors New Zealand (RASNZ). Born in Afghanistan, she left at 13, spending many years abroad, before returning there to work as a psychologist with the UN. Last year, she moved to Auckland with her husband and six-year-old daughter.

Join us through March as a diverse group of New Zealanders share what makes them happy.

“I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I feel really honoured and privileged to be part of the stories of many people. My background has helped me in many ways. The experiences that they [refugees and asylum seekers] share with me are not just anecdotes. I know what it means to live in war and conflict, what it means to constantly fear for your life and the life of your loved ones due to circumstances that are completely out of your control and unpredictable, to leave all that you have and are familiar with, for an unfamiliar place to start your life from scratch.

In my work I see some common themes that emerge. Many of them are dealing with the trauma of the past, but at the same time struggling with the transition of getting settled in a new country. Dealing with loneliness is one of the most frequent things that we see across the different nations. We also see people with PTSD.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

At RASNZ we have created a sacred space filled with love, caring and trust, where clients feel comfortable to share their stories and receive the necessary advice and support. 

The beauty and the rewarding part for me to see that there is progress. For many, it’s recognition of the strength that they have, recognition of the resilience that they have, but we're not able to see it because of the overwhelming distress that they were experiencing throughout the process of migration.

I see them walk out of my office with firmer steps to start a new chapter in their lives. The sight of that renewed confidence and awakened determination is what I sleep with at night, and it brings a smile to my face. I feel like I owe it to all the survivors of war. 

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

I have had my share of challenges in transition and settling in New Zealand. Appreciating the challenges that my clients have gone through to be where they are, and being a foreign worker here myself, I am familiar with the path that they need to journey through from their past to their future.

As told to Felicity Monk.

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