Hi Ellenbrook, Introducing Alaa
I met Alaa recently at the Sister Project, an amazing innovative idea where women from all cultures come together to create friendships.
Alaa is a beautiful talented woman who only arrived in Australia three years ago. She is a trained midwife and is hoping to work in that field in Perth, but first she must master our crazy English language.
Alaa is passionate about getting involved and making the best of her new life in Ellenbrook. She is studying English at TAFE and attending English conversation classes at the library. Alaa has a lovely daughter who she takes to Rhyme time which she feels also helps her English practice.
It was at Rhyme time where Alaa met Tracey who introduced her to the Sister Project. The Sister Project gives Alaa an opportunity to connect with others from multicultural backgrounds who understand her struggles of settling into a new environment. The ladies at the Sister Project are very innovative and creative and are seeking ways constantly to increase their skills in all areas, such as language, media, craft, cookery and dressmaking.
Alaa considers Australia to be wonderful environment to live as it is quiet and friendly with people who care about each other. She loves the multiculturalism and how people come from many varied and different backgrounds. The “Sister Project” exemplifies the ease at which the women can integrate and express themselves. Alaa feels she can truly be herself in that setting.
One of the challenges Alaa has found in her new country is the views around her wearing her cultural dress. Alaa wears and really loves her ‘hijab’ or headscarf. For Alaa the headscarf is a delightful part of her wardrobe and she enjoys the multiple colours and designs of the ‘hijab’ that allow her to feel free and attractive. Alaa wants everyone to know she chooses to wear her ‘hijab’.
Like so many of our other new Australians from a Muslim background, Alaa is working hard to integrate into her new community. She has so many skills to offer and contribute to Ellenbrook and is working hard to play an active role promoting the beauty and benefits of our multicultural society.
Alaa worries that her contributions will be judged by her wearing her ‘hijab’. She feels many people in Australia feel the women are forced to wear the ‘hijab’ but to Alaa it is an expression of who she is. For Alaa the ‘hijab’ is a thing of beauty.
She loves that in Australia there is the freedom to live peacefully with people who embrace and express different opinions and views and enjoys the eclectic modes of dress. It is important for Alaa to keep wearing the ‘hijab’ and to tell her story to challenge those who see the ‘hijab’ as something it isn’t. Alaa believes in all people living together peacefully, living the values of acceptance and tolerance. She feels by wearing her ‘hijab’ she helps to educate others on what it means to her.
When we took the photo for the story Alaa wanted to show her dress rather than her. She wants us to think about her story next time you see someone in their cultural dress and maybe pause for a moment and say hello.
Alaa is a lovely women, whose cultural dress creates a point of difference but as I have spent time with Alaa I see she wants and will work towards creating the same things we all strive for. Alaa’s vision for the future is an Ellenbrook that is a connected, inclusive and supportive community for all.
I know spending time with Alaa has opened my eyes and mind to what a gift our culturally and linguistically diverse community members are to our area. Let us all look beyond the ‘hijab’ and see the women within.
Thank you Alaa for sharing your story. So everyone say hello to Alaa