A frayed visa document, an interim driver's licence and a Medicare card are all that remains of the presence of Zanala Baden Ala Wama in Australia.
Ala Wama's nightmare began in 1982, when his father was murdered by the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 1991, he escaped to Iran. For the next eight years, he languished in refugee camps in Saudi Arabia and Iran, and in 1999, again it was time to run.
He farewelled his mother and his wife with the promise of finding a country where they could feel safe. He promised he would pave the way for a new life. In September 1999, Ala Wama arrived on the north west coast of Australia. He was transferred to Curtin Detention Centre. One year later, he was released and bussed to Melbourne and left to fend for himself. With the aid of community workers, he was able to find transitional accommodation in a flat in West Heidelberg.
Then the news came, towards the middle of last year - 'Your wife and mother have arrived in Indonesia.' 'Do not come on the boats,' he warned them. 'It is getting too dangerous.' But by phone, they told him, 'We cannot wait. We cannot see you; we have waited long enough.' So Ala Wama, on 13 July 2001, flew back to Jakarta - better to be with his loved ones in their time of need, even though it means he had lost his temporary protection.
On 19 October 2001, Ala Wama, his wife and mother boarded a leaking boat in Indonesia, bound for Australia. Later that day, Ala Wama, his wife and mother, drowned along with 350 other asylum seekers. Yes, it comes down to two words: philoxenia and xenophobia. Either fear the stranger or hold out a helping hand.
Yes, on 19 October 2001, a woman gave birth on a sinking boat off the coast of Java. She was last seen, attached by the umbilical cord to her baby, by a survivor drifting past