AOD TRANSITIONAL & POST-RELEASE SUPPORT
My name is Ahmed and I am 44 years old. I was raised on a farm with an older brother and a younger sister. We all worked on the farm, helping with the family business, growing vegetables to sell at the markets. We didn’t get to do what other kids did; we worked hard and we didn’t get toys.
I was the only Turk at my primary school and each day I had to be ready to have fights with other kids. My English was not the best and people used to make fun of me. The first week of Year 7 I was told that I was a bad kid and that the principal would call my father if I did the smallest thing. My dad was a hard man and I don’t say that lightly. We were bashed every day just for being kids, so I feared my dad. The principal said I was old enough to leave school if I wanted to, so I signed the papers and waited for dad to pick me up. I was so scared of what he was going to do to me. Turns out he was happy in a way as now I could work more on the farm. He didn’t know I was out looking for work, and when I got a job in a warehouse he gave me a bashing like none he had given me yet.
I worked there until I had an accident and injured my back. My father wanted me to go on compo so he could get the money. I went back to work after two weeks but dad had already been to see my boss, telling him I was in a bad way. The boss knew he was looking for money so I was told to sign a form saying I had no injuries and I could go back to work. Soon after they sacked me. I lost a good job, all because of dad’s greed.
I worked on the farm and eventually got my licence. My mum got me a small car. Dad got upset one day and said he was going to sell the car. This was the first time that I tried to end my life. I got into my car and waited until I saw a truck coming slowly down the road. I drove as fast as I could under the back wheels of the truck. All this happened right in front of our house. Luckily my timing was not good and the truck went over the car. I lost my fingers; they put one back on but the other one was too cut up.
Soon after, my brother married a girl that my father picked for him and it was decided I would marry her sister. I had a girlfriend already so my mum agreed that I would marry the sister only so that she could move to Australia and I could leave her after two years. When my mother died overseas, the arrangement died with her. My father then told my Australian girlfriend I was married. She left me while she was pregnant with my child, so I lost my baby too. I took my father’s gun and tried to kill myself again. I felt my whole life was falling apart.
Time went on and I fell in love with the girl that I had arranged to marry with my mother when she came to Australia. Four years later she fell pregnant and we travelled overseas to visit her family. I also wanted to visit my mum’s grave, as I hadn’t been able to go to her funeral. While there, my wife had complications with the pregnancy and our son was born a month early.
He tried to live but died after two hours. At the hospital they gave him to me wrapped in a cloth. I don’t know how I got to the cemetery. I buried him and got the first plane home, leaving my wife behind in Turkey.
I wanted to end my life, and do it right this time. I saw on TV people were dying from this drug heroin, so I went to Cabramatta to get some. I was told not to have too much at first but I did. When I woke up in the morning I couldn’t walk so I knew I was close to ending my life. I finished the rest of the heroin but still woke up. Before I knew it I was not thinking about anything anymore. This drug had fixed all the bad that had happened to me.
This went on for a while until all my money ran out. I went to prison for a driving offence but while inside I learnt a lot about stealing, so when I got out I did that. I wasn’t good at it though, and soon ended up going in and out of prison, learning more about crime each time and getting better at it. My family came to see me for years but each time they got further away from me. I thought my wife in Turkey would be better without me so I called her and said that I didn’t love her anymore. She knew I was lying and tried to talk me out of it, but I told her if she didn’t divorce me I would divorce her. One day I was taken to court from prison to sign the divorce papers.
Years went by and I kept going to prison. I never did anything to change the way I lived because I didn’t want to live anymore. I was in and out of mental-health wards and sent to safe cells in prison. It was a really bad time for me and I was bashed by other inmates who wanted me to sell drugs for them and collect the money. I’d be bashed and end up in hospital and then they said they would kill me. I hoped they would because I was just getting deeper into drugs and crime each time. I tried to end my life heaps of times with drugs, praying that I would one day be dead.
My family once found out that I was in a coma in Adelaide and when I woke up they were there. They said I should just stop this life and be a good person, but they never asked me why I ended up a drug addict. I sometimes wondered if I told them about losing the girl I loved and the girl she went on to have, losing my mum and having to bury my son on my own, would they understand? I didn’t think so. I knew I was on my own. I tried to get my life back on track and although I failed a lot, I got stronger every time.
About six years ago I decided I was ready to change the way I coped with things, but was then sentenced to five years. I told myself that this would be the last time I do this prison thing as I am 44 years old and over it all. I set myself some goals and started to work on them.
The first one was to look at why I was trying to kill myself all the time. I started to see doctors in prison, got into art and drug and alcohol courses. I worked and kept myself busy and started to tick off the goals as I completed them. Years went by and I got strong so I thought I would do this program called Ngara Ngura. In the program I Iearned how to be better at controlling when I felt like using, to let go of my past and be accountable for my own behaviour. I was given parole and released. I have to admit I thought I would be able to get through day-to-day life easily, but I was wrong. I needed help.
When I was still in the program I was asked if I would like to have a support worker when I was released and I’m so glad I said yes. I don’t think I would have been able to stay strong without Paul. I would like to thank him for all that he and CRC have done for me. He comes to see me every week and I can say anything to him. Everyone needs support in life, some more than others.
With Paul’s help I do things differently these days. I have more understanding of why some people solve their problems and some can’t. I know not to dwell on things and take things personally anymore. I’ve learnt that I need to be patient and that not all things turn out the way we would like. I know that life dealt me a bad card, but instead of putting the cards away I kept dealing and kept losing. Now I take each day as a new day and put the past with the past.
I keep myself in check all the time. Now I have my licence, my car, the pension and the home that I always wanted. All this was because people like CRC gave a shit about me and I wanted to change my life. With their help I was able to do just that.
It worked for me because Paul always came out to see me. To me it felt good that someone cared and my self-esteem increased, which made me want to change the way I live the rest of my life. I have a few support networks that help me each week and I need each one to get back into life out of prison. It’s not easy after being in prison for so long, but if people read this – get help and give yourself a good chance to live a healthy normal life.