Stories from Manus

My shop was a place for people to come together, talk about fashion, and leave looking great.

Meet Aadil, 25,

Imprisoned on Manus 

Island Detention Camp

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When I was a kid, my family lived near the market, and I'd go there every morning. I loved it; the energy, the sense of community, the beautiful clothes. I made friends with a few stallholders, and they started giving me tips on how to run a business. That's when my passion started.

My parents didn't want me to work in the market, but when I was 15 I came home from school one day and begged them. It was my grandfather who convinced my parents to let me leave school and learn more about business.

I took my training seriously, and at 17 I opened my own store selling beautiful clothes. It was the happiest day of my life.

Clothes are really important to me. I want to help people look their best - and I want to look my best too! In Iran, it was hard to dress the way I wanted. But I always tried to look good, and stay on top of the latest fashion. My shop was a place for people to come together, talk about fashion, and leave looking great.

I love business and I love fashion. I'm a big fan of 50 Cent. I mean, I don't care for his product but I love the way it's being sold! It's so impressive how he came from poverty, and built up an empire.

It was my grandfather who convinced my parents to let me leave school and learn more about business. I took my training seriously, and at 17 I opened my own store selling women's clothes. It was the happiest day of my life.

I met Arman* when she came to my shop, and she took my breath away. I gave her my business card, pretending it was just about clothes, but really I was hoping she would call me. She did - that night. I was ecstatic. The next day we went out for lunch, and everything about her just confirmed she was the woman for me.

Arman started working with me in the store. It was blissful; we saw each other every day, and my business was going really well. But life outside the shop was different. I was involved in protests against the government, and it was getting dangerous.

Even though she knew I was having problems with the government, Arman begged me not to leave Iran. But I knew I had to go. I thought that if I could find a safe place, we could rebuild our life together. We could open a new shop, and start selling beautiful clothes again. We could make people happy.

When I was taken to Christmas Island, I called her. We were both crying.

We still care so much for each other, and we speak often. She knows I'm in a detention centre, but she doesn't know I'm on Manus Island. She sees the news about this place. I can't bring myself to tell her that's where I am.

All I wish for is to be somewhere safe with Arman. Somewhere full of laughter.

*Name changed to protect identity

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Photo by: Mathew Abbott