Farhad* was held on Nauru for five years where he was treated by the Médecins Sans Frontières mental health team. Here, he shares his story.
“When I left my home country, I travelled to Indonesia first, then I came by boat to Australia. I was on Christmas Island before I was sent to Nauru where I remained for five years.
I tried to come to Australia to find a new life, but unfortunately, they sent me to Nauru by force. They didn’t respect me as a human. If I was in my home country, the government wants to kill me straight away. I tried to come to Australia and the government kills me little by little, step by step. They tormented me a lot over five years on Nauru because I have no future in my life.
The first year while I was in the detention centre was hard. They didn’t respect us, they didn’t treat us as humans. They gave us a tent to live, and it was very, very hot. We could only use the shower once a day for three minutes. We could use the phone to call our family for 10 minutes every week. The connection was very bad and sometimes I couldn’t reach my family.
"The first year while I was in the detention centre was hard. They didn’t respect us, they didn’t treat us as humans."
I met my wife in the detention centre. I can’t explain the love we have for each other. I didn’t have anything to offer – no nice clothes, no car, no home, no job, no money. But that’s real love. We married on Nauru when we were both living in the community.
“I don’t want my child to stay trapped with me on Nauru.”
My wife became pregnant and during her pregnancy she was really depressed. My wife continued to deteriorate while she was on Nauru and was becoming more and more unwell. She didn’t want to keep the baby. She told me, “I don’t want to give a child life in this country. I don’t want my child to stay trapped with me on Nauru.”
My wife tried to kill herself when she was pregnant. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t eat. She was in a very bad situation. My daughter was underweight when she was born on Nauru. She was very weak because my wife had not been eating properly.
I started visiting the MSF clinic and tried to get my wife to come with me. After a while, she let her guard down and made an appointment to visit one of the psychiatrists. She found this service helpful. But unfortunately, after a few months, my daughter became very sick, and this was very upsetting for my wife.
My daughter was very ill with a serious infection and eventually our family was transferred to Australia for treatment. We are now in Australia, where my daughter is getting the medical care she needs. But every week immigration authorities call me and put pressure on me and tell me that when my daughter’s treatment finishes, I will go back to Nauru again.
"My wife tried to kill herself when she was pregnant. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t eat."
The most difficult thing on Nauru is the pressure. I tried to come to Australia for freedom and they put me on Nauru and they tell me in three to five years, that a third country is going to take you. After four years they say, no more third country, Nauru is your third country. After five years, they say America is a third country and you have to be processed. Again. I haven’t had the results. But some people have been rejected. What happens to them? How long do they have to wait for another country?
“The people on Nauru cannot wait anymore”
MSF was the best to the people. And now there is nothing. My friend, he was a patient of MSF and now he is getting more depressed because MSF is no longer there. He doesn’t trust other providers and that’s why some people are getting worse.
I know everyone did a lot for the kids and the families – and yes, they are important. But what about the single men? Even the men on Manus Island, for five years like us. They have the same problem, the same issues, the same pressure. We are all human. I want to ask the Australian government or anyone who has power to give us freedom.
The people on Nauru cannot wait anymore. They are getting more depressed. They want to hit themselves, they want to kill themselves. They are desperately looking for life and they are desperately in need of freedom.”
*Patient name has been changed to protect anonymity.
MSF provided mental healthcare on the Pacific island of Nauru for 11 months before being forced to leave by the Government of Nauru in October 2018.