I am from Burma and I am 67 years old






image c. Janet Galbraith

I am from Burma and I am 67 years old

as told to Farhad Shah by a Burmese woman detained on Nauru 2017
Voiced by Janet Galbraith
A woman from Burma held hostage in Nauru for more than 4 years now asked F.S. to share her story.
Thank you to F.S. for your sensitive work.
Her story was part of WTF's empty chair installation at QPF 2017.







The bunk has become my entire world. A cave, coffin and a grave.

Regardless of how people see it, it is the weakness of my tears of anguish, my happiness, my hopelessness, my grief, and this maturity I have developed beyond my years in this deathly setting.

No one can see the memories I have shared with this bunk bed over the past four years unless they have seen it through my eyes, seen it as I see it.

It’d be nothing less than a big surprise for others, peer through my lenses.

It was an open wound at the beginning, as I was not allowed to cover it with anything. On top of everything else I had only one bed sheet to protect me from the heat, to erase my sweat and endless tears.

As years passed I started ripping paper boxes. And my clothing around my bunk I swapped some packets of cigarettes for a blue bed sheet. My white private room becoming a colourful world.

I am surrounded by people. They’re like skeletons, their brains are not functioning, their hearts are not beating anymore. I open the door of my little makeshift room and retire in my cave.

The light of the colours loosen my heart and make my brain work smoothly giving me a sense of freedom. There are pictures and, there are pictures of birds and trees on my bedsheet. There are prints of lions, cats and monkeys on my blanket. The flowers and butterflies keep playing throughout the days and nights. The song that they sing helps me talk to them. Angel moon.

There is a hole in the roof which is on the right side of my bunk. I correspond with my angel moon through this tiny hole. My small world glitters in the moonlight and the little flashes of light produces sparks of hope in my heart. My angel moon informs me so that I don’t get lost in the darkness from where I am unlikely to bounce back.

We laugh, cry, play, talk, make memories and I listen to my angel moon’s songs throughout the night. It forms my world with the feeling of safety, love and compassion. There is peace in my little home, a peace I’ve been seeking from a very young age.

In town, I am lost, frightened, suffocated. Being free is not normal anymore. In my bunk is where I belong. No jealousy, animosity, fight, cruelty, inhumanity, racism, religion and inferiority in my home. My entire world is full of love, acceptance, compassion and respect. I love my bunk because it has given me so much to live for and a lot to write about. It has made me the person who I have become. I don’t know what I would be without it.

What we are up to


Hani Abdille

Kaveh Arya

Amjad Hussain

Eunice Andrada

Writing Through Fences – Sydney Writers’ Festival 2017 @ Sydney Dance 1
Event Date: Thursday 25 May 2017
Starting at 11:30 AM
Place:Sydney Dance 1
Sydney, NSW

‘Go beyond the political rhetoric of detention centres and ‘boat people’ and learn more about the real life adventures of people who now call Australia home. Featuring three performances and a discussion from those who have first-hand experience of seeking asylum in Australia; Hani Abdile, Kaveh Arya, Amjad Hussain and moderator Eunice Andrada, will share powerful stories and poems told with passion and vulnerability’ – Word Travels.



Hani Abdille (and others) will also be appearing at the Sydney Writers Festival as part of Transforming My Country and They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories From Detention.

Hani Abdile is a writer and spoken word poet who fled the civil war in Somalia. She made her way to Australia by boat and spent 11 months on Christmas Island. While detained, Hani found healing in writing poetry. She is an honorary member of PEN, a lead writer for the Writing Through Fences group, and has received numerous awards for her community work and many achievements since being released from immigration detention. Her first book I Will Rise was published in 2016 to critical acclaim.

Appearing at: