Behind nurse Shabnam Ighani’s smile lies a story of a determined woman who not only escaped an emotionally abusive marriage, but who crossed international borders and escaped prison with her two young sons to live a better life in Australia. After overcoming her own adversities, now the mother-of-two works at Royal North Shore Hospital’s in the renal/urology and vascular ward to save the lives of others. Shabnam’s bright and bubbly personality masks the depression and sadness that once filled her life after years of persecution in her native Iran, trapped in an unhappy marriage. Living in Iran in 1979 during the revolution, Shabnam found herself an outsider as the new Islamic government persecuted her family for being of Baha’i faith. A relatively new religion founded in the 19th century in Iran, the Baha’i faith believe in unity of all people. As the Iranian revolution took hold, Shabnam and other Baha’i followers were locked out of studying at university, found family and friends shunned them, and they faced persecution for their religion. Aged in her late 20s, with her sons aged four and nine in tow, she made the harrowing attempt to cross the Turkish border thorough the mountains with the help of smugglers, only to be captured by authorities and imprisoned in Iran. Undeterred, Shabnam made the journey again with her sons after being released from prison – and she hasn’t looked back. Detailing her escape from Iran, Shabnam has penned a memoir Fighting for Future: Trapped behind the Border which shows the incredible determination the mother had to make a better life in Australia. “I knew no one other than my brother who was already living here in Australia. I had nowhere to live, I didn’t speak English and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said.
It has taken me 20 years to write this book and tell my story. It was very hard to start to write my story.Clinical nurse, Shabnam Ighani
Living on her own in Sydney in 1997, raising two young boys, Shabnam enrolled to be a nurse while also studying English. She is now a clinical nurse specialist at RNSH and her past has been hidden from many of her colleagues, until now. Suffering from depression for many years, Shabnam formulated 10 self-help rules which she still lives by now to help her get through the tough times. “I want other people to know that it is okay to feel depressed. You shouldn’t feel ashamed and you are not alone,” she said. “It (domestic violence) is nothing to feel ashamed of and I want people to know it’s not their fault.” To find a copy of Shabnam’s book, visit her website www.shabnamighani.com