Migrant Mothers of Australia: Part Two

25 / 05 / 2015

This is our second installment of Sevim Dogan’s photographic project “Migrant Mothers of Australia.” Dogan’s project involves women over 80 from diverse backgrounds. The aim of this project is to honour their many sacrifices and commitments in their journey to call Australia home.

Dogan says of the project:

“Departing from a sense of belonging in a new place, I wanted to build this photographic study of a long forgotten generation. Their children have been born here, studied here and help build our very own multicultural society and the mothers’ role in this is undeniably prominent.

I’ve had to adopt many ways to locate and approach these women for a photo shoot. I have discovered a mass appreciation for the idea of this project and it wasn’t too long until I found my treasures. The project has found its soul when notions of ‘belonging’ and ‘ identity’ vocalised itself in the stories of these women.”

The Migrant Mothers of Australia will be exhibited at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in September 2015.


Popi is full of life and proud to say that she was once a beautiful girl. I can tell she’d been photographed countless times. She showed me the ‘good side’ of her face and asked me not to show too many wrinkles.

She’s chatty, funny and loved my attention. Her son came over to hold the reflector for me and Popi directs him how to hold it. He said, “Mum, take it easy. You aren’t being featured in Women’s Weekly.”

Unlike many other migrants here, Popi and her husband, both Cypriots, had no political or financial reasons to move to Australia. Her face shone when telling the story of how, as a 17 year old, she fell in love with the neighbour’s son, much older than herself. Her family didn’t agree to the marriage and she ran away with him. Once her family stopped talking to her, they decided to advance on their long journey to Australia in 1951. Popi has been a proud Australian for 61 years.


Originally born in Northern Iraq in 1932, Alyashoa lived in Baghdad with her family. It is her story that breaks my heart the most.

One of her sons moved to Australia in 1980 at the age of twenty. When Alyashoa’s husband passed away in June 1985, it had been five long years since he had last seen his son. Iraq, a land of turmoil, forced Alyashoa and her daughter to seek refuge in a Jordan camp in 1998. After a long four years, her visa was approved upon her son’s diagnosis with cancer here in Australia. Unfortunately, her son passed away before Alyashoa made it to Australia.

She now lives with her daughter. When I walk in she welcomes me and tries to answer my questions by pointing at the black and white photographs on the walls. Alyashoa insists that I have a cup of tea and biscuits with her limited English. We have a silent way of communicating. She feels my sympathy and gives me a distant look. We both know we’ve arrived in a sense of connection over our lands.

FacebookTwitter