His family had fled the capital in 1994, when Jawed was eight, to escape the random acts of violence and destruction of warring ethnic groups which cost the lives of many thousands of Afghan civilians.
It was during one of these trips that his father was taken off the bus by unidentified gunmen and shot dead.
“We didn’t find his body for 18 days,” Jawed told Flinders Journal.
As if this was not devastating enough, soon after, Jawed’s 11-year-old brother and two year old sister died of diseases which could have been treated with simple medical therapy in any other country.
Jawed’s mother, pregnant with twins at the time of her husband’s murder, gave birth to a girl and boy. The boy only survived one year.
Jawed along with his family fled to Pakistan as refugees, like the two million other Afghans at the time.
“Mine is not an unusual story. I know many people who have lost everything and are still living in refugee camps where the conditions are horrible and there’s no real future,” Jawed said.
He considers himself “lucky” because he had family in Australia who sponsored him and his family, however, this process took two years and a lot of borrowed money without which it would have been impossible to complete the requirements of the application process.
Jawed, who had had only two years of schooling and no English at all, started school in Australia at Year 6. “I set myself a goal: I wanted to make the most of the opportunity, of this second chance at life,” he said.
He worked as a delivery boy in a pharmacy while at school, and remained committed to his studies.
“Life was getting a little bit better for us but, unable to adjust and come to terms with her losses, Mum developed a chronic mental Illness,” he said.
At the end of Year 12, Jawed graduated with Dux of his school with a near perfect score in English. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree at the University of Melbourne before coming to Flinders in 2007 to study medicine.
He’ll return to Melbourne next year as an intern.
“I have a passion for surgery and I hope to follow through and become an Orthopaedic Surgeon,” he said.
But he lives every day with the memories of life in Afghanistan and the difficulties of those who continue to suffer from the horrors of war and the misery it brings upon a civilian population.
“You can never forget who you are. The positive thing is that it gives you the strength to try to make the most of what you have left.”