Sue Johnson introduces Mahboba at Harmony House. Photo: Jenna Cairney
Sue Johnson introduces Mahboba at Harmony House. Photo: Jenna Cairney

Effort to help a mother's mission

WHEN Mahboba's son died she fell to pieces.

She fled Afghanistan at the age of 14 and had seen death and suffering, but losing her own child pushed her over the edge.

It wasn't until her brother came to her with some wise words that she managed to get her life back on track and begin Mahboba's Promise, an organisation which provides housing, schooling, equipment and training to those in need in Afghanistan.

“I decided to dedicate my life to others,” she said.

At Harmony House in Warwick on Saturday she shared her compelling story of how, as a teenager, she walked for 10 days and nights over the Afghanistan mountains to Pakistan.

Many died of starvation and life in Pakistan was also hard.

She eventually made it to Australia where she married and had a family of her own.

“Australia gave me hope and life,” she said.

Mahboba has an Order of Australia medal and has been named Australian of the Year but stresses it's not about ego, it's about helping others.

After losing her son, her husband left her and she fell to pieces until her brother told her she was a battler and should fight to get her life back together.

She started with a school for Afghani refugees in Pakistan and then, when Taliban rule ended in her home country, she went there to help orphaned children.

Sue Johnson was sitting around the dinner table one day with her family members, who were whinging about the meal she had prepared, when it occurred to her there were children out there eating grass to survive.

She realised she had to do something and after a friend saw a documentary on Mahboba, Ms Johnson managed to track her down and offer her help and support.

“As soon as we spoke, we had a connection,” she said.

“She's my twin sister.”

Since then, Ms Johnson and a band of volunteers have organised countless garage sales and fundraisers to make money for the cause.



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