Jandark's Story

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Published Oct 05 2023

“I see myself as father and mother at the same time. I have to be strong, for my son to be strong. I think coming to Australia is the best thing I've done for my children.”


Jandark became a mother at 18. First came a daughter, Dina, and then a son, Kristian. Dina was a healthy baby girl, but at three-months-old Kristian was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.


This was back in the family’s mother country, Iraq. Jandark and her husband (from whom she is now separated) took their young family to Jordan, seeking the specialist medical help that Kristian so desperately needed.


“In 2013 when Kristian had his first surgery, the doctors said he might not be able to walk or talk afterwards, and that he might have some comprehension problems. And then he had a second surgery. And he can walk and talk, he is a very smart boy,” says Jandark.


Now, Australia is home. The family of three found asylum in Melbourne in 2021 and have been settling in to a new and different life – one where Jandark and the children are safe and have freedom and independence. Kristian is able to receive world-class care for his condition through the Royal Children’s Hospital.


Dina is 14 and Kristian is 12 and both go to a nearby school. The children quickly picked up the English they needed to get by, and Jandark is learning too. The family attend church together when they can and are slowly making social connections. But with no family around, life is hard. Kristian’s heart condition means being his carer is Jandark’s first and main priority. He cannot be left alone and often has to come home from school to rest, with Jandark estimating he is only able to attend 50 per cent of the time.


Like many children in families where someone needs to be cared for, Dina is also a carer for Kristian. When he is very unwell, Jandark stays up caring him overnight and Dina cares for him during the day, while Jandark rests. Keeping up with his medical appointments is a big job, as Kristian sees a doctor weekly – sometimes more often.


One day Jandark would like to complete a baking or pastry-making class so she can start a catering business from home. Dina hopes to be a paediatrician and Kristian dreams of a career in interior design.

You can find Jandark's story in the fourth edition of The Caring Way magazine: https://www.bit.ly/TCW4