Afghan refugee becomes Young Australian of the year
By Meena Haseeb - Sat Jan 26 2013, 2:50 pm
West Australian Akram Azimi has been named the Young Australian of the Year. He came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan in 1999 after he fled Afghanistan with his mother and brother at the height of a bloody civil war.
“This country has been incredibly good to me,” he said in a video presentation before the award was announced.
The West Australian was awarded the honour in Canberra for his mentoring work with indigenous communities and people with disability, the Daily Telegraph reported.
He was picked as an inspiration for his work mentoring people with disability and in indigenous communities, the latter beginning with a trip to a community in the Kimberley in Western Australia that he hoped would provide some adventure.
“What I did not know was that when I met those kids I was going to fall in love with them. I was going to fall in love with that community, I was going to fall in love with that landscape,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Akram Azimi, 25, is studying law, science and arts at the University of Western Australia and has been involved in a project to combat polio as well as an initiative for mentoring indigenous youth.
He also graduated school dux, topping his tertiary entrance exam scores among his classmates, and went on to study a triple major in law, science and arts at the University of Western Australia.
In 2011, he co-founded a student-run initiative to raise awareness about indigenous issues in universities, and has also worked with the True Blue Dreaming, a youth mentoring network.
Mr Azimi is also mentoring a Special Olympics athlete to raise public awareness about disability issues.
He was born in Kabul in 1987 and fled with his family in 1999 after the Taliban viciously consolidated its power in the country through a vicious civil conflict involving warring tribal factions.