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Azita Abdollahian - Westfield Local Heroes 2020

Brave rescuer

Shining Light Foundation
Courageous. Inspiring. Compassionate.

When Azita Abdollahian arrived in Australia as a refugee, her husband was extremely controlling and would not let her integrate.

The young mother and former teenage bride taught herself English by watching the Wiggles.

She stayed in the marriage for 22 years, partly because she feared becoming homeless.

She plucked up the courage to leave when a police officer reached out to her during a visit to her home.

Azita recounts the words of a woman police officer who helped her reinvent her life. “She told me: ‘Azita, you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be respected, and you deserve to be loved’.

“From that night, I picked myself up, put my shattered pieces together and enrolled in university at the age of 40 to study psychology.”

Azita has launched the Shining Light foundation to support women on the streets of Sydney.

“Once I learned that my wounds are my superpower, I found it easy to connect to the most vulnerable people, especially all the women who ended up in the street due to domestic violence,” says Azita, who is a qualified hairdresser.

Azita has worked with homeless people for more than five years, providing them with support, company, conversation, donated goods and haircuts.

From a person who couldn’t speak English, Azita is now the author of her own book, encouraging and education others by sharing her own life stories.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. The Shining Light Foundation will buy a van to set up for haircuts and to deliver donated items.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here

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