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Rawi, Mahboba (1965 - )

Kabul, Afghanistan
Migrant community advocate


Mahboba Rawi founded the aid organisation, Mahboba's Promise, in 1998 to assist Afghanistan's people in rebuilding their lives after two decades of war and oppression.


Born in 1965 in a middle class suburb of Kabul, Mahboba Rawi was one of nine brothers and sisters. Having joined street demonstrations following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, her family feared for her safety, and Mahboba left Afghanistan for Peshawar in 1982.

In 1984 Mahboba married an Afghan man who was a permanent resident of Australia. Living in Sydney, she worked as a cleaner before the pair shifted to Glen Iris, Melbourne, where she worked as a machinist for a clothing company. Here she gave birth to a son, and two years later back in Sydney, a daughter.

Following the tragic death of her son in 1992 in a freak drowning accident at the Kiarna Blowhole, Mahboba threw herself into study. She passed year 11 and 12 before completing an Advanced Community Welfare Course at Granville College in 1996. This same year her second son was born, but Mahboba's marriage had broken down.

From here, Mahboba began work with the Afghan Women's Group, drawing Afghan women out of the more traditional approaches to living and into the 'Australian way'. She began swimming classes for migrant women through the Parramatta City Council.

On seeing a letter from Dr Nasrin Seddiqee in Peshawar detailing the horrors of the refugee camps there, Mahboba and her English class raised a small sum. Dr Nasrin sent thanks and pleaded for more help. From here began Mahboba's Promise, providing financial and practical support for projects on the ground that focus on improving living conditions and education standards for women and children. Recognised in recent years by UNICEF and a variety of Australian community groups and media outlets for her work on behalf of some of the world's most traumatised people, Mahboba has made a difference to the lives of women in Australia and abroad.

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