Refugee now helping others acknowledged in Western Australia’s Youth Awards

November 11,  2014 | ABC News

Ehsan Warasi

Ehsan Warasi is working with other trauma survivors after coming to Australia as a refugee

A teenage refugee from Afghanistan who left his family in search of a better life and is now supporting other trauma survivors is a finalist in this year’s WA Youth Awards.

Ehsan Warasi was just 16 when he left his family and fled to Australia after 10 years in a refugee camp in Iran.

He then spent 12 months in an Australian detention centre before being granted permanent residency.

Ehsan, now 19, taught himself English from school books given to him by guards.

“I tried to not think of where I was,” he said.

“I wanted to take advantage of the opportunities available to me.”

I feel obliged to give back to society because Australia basically saved my life.

Ehsan Warasi, youth awards finalist

His nomination recognises his contribution as a youth support worker at the Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors, and his outstanding academic achievements, including a 97.85 ATAR score out of a possible 100.

Ehsan said he was dedicated to helping youth who have a high risk of experiencing negative life outcomes as a way of paying it forward.

“I have this ideology that by helping people you are actually helping yourself,” he said.

“I feel obliged to give back to society because Australia basically saved my life.”

His story is just one out of the many young West Australians who have overcome adversity to do extraordinary work to help others in need.

Craig Comrie, CEO of Youth Affairs Council of WA, said the Youth Awards aimed to recognise the contributions young people make to the community.

He said Ehsan was one of 26 finalists out of more than 100 nominations.

“Many young people in WA are doing great things not only in their local communities but also around the state and nationally, and it’s important that we recognise these positive stories,” he said.

“I’m often surprised by the fantastic work that they’re doing and it makes me feel like I should be doing more for the community.”

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