Sisters doing it for themselves
RELAXING at the beach is one of Mehri and Masoumeh Sharifi's favourite things to do on the Coffs Coast.
The tight-knit sisters from Iran are making the most of their time together before Mehri returns to Armidale to continue studying for her Bachelor of Nursing.
Meanwhile, Masoumeh is studying English at TAFE in Coffs Harbour with a long term goal to study criminology.
The sisters said their zeal to pursue tertiary education made their mother very proud.
Education was a main driving force behind their mother's decision to apply to migrate to Australia from Iran.
Mehri and Masoumeh's parents were illegal immigrants to Iran, escaping the violence in their home of Afghanistan.
The death of the girls' father, coupled with constant discrimination from the Iranian Government over their Afghani heritage, drove their mother to fight for a better life for her family by applying to resettle in Australia.
It took five years of processing before the Sharifis finally touched down in Australia in 2012.
Masoumeh said for their mother, watching them graduating high school at Bishop Druitt College in 2014 was a joyous occasion for the family after the hardship they faced in recent years.
"When the assembly finished she hugged us, she was so happy and proud," Masoumeh said.
Looking back on their school years in Australia, Masoumeh said it was very different to school in Iran.
"They use technology now, like they're using their laptops and the internet but in Iran we use only textbooks," she said.
"I didn't know how to turn on the laptop, it was so funny."
Fast forward to today, the tech-savy, twenty-somethings are loving the freedoms of being a woman in Australia, both motivated to chase their career dreams.
"This way is so good, no pressure, no force. Before in Afghanistan or Iran, they a forced girl to marry with a boy they choose, it's hard," Mehri said.
Mehri wants to work in a metro hospital and eventually would like to return to Afghanistan.