Stories from Manus

Breaking Bad is the best TV series ever.

Meet Shazad, 26,

Imprisoned on Manus 

Island Detention Camp

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I was 13 the first time I went swimming. My teacher literally picked me up and threw me in the deep end - but somehow I was fine! And soon I was famous for how long I could swim underwater.

I learn fast. And I do it by jumping (or being thrown) into the deep end.

Breaking bad is the best TV series ever. Walter White, this sick man who said he wanted to help his family, who let his ego take over - his journey fascinated me. But Saul is my favourite character - he's always up to something! He's a man who always had a plan. I'm really looking forward to watching his show.

I grew up in a big family; we travelled a lot because my dad ran a big business supplying engine oil all over Pakistan. By the time I was 18, dad's health problems were making it hard for him to work, so I started going into the office to help him. Sometimes I'd show up in my school uniform.

After a while, dad would come into the office less and less; he'd just give me advice over the phone. I had to learn fast, and I did - within a couple of years I was running the company, managing 50 staff, meeting important clients. Dad was so proud.

I was 13 the first time I went swimming. My teacher literally picked me up and threw me in the deep end - but somehow I was fine! And soon I was famous for how long I could swim underwater.

But in my country, success can make you a target of the wrong people. Everybody knows how it works, if you don't pay up, they kidnap you. Maybe your family can pay the ransom, but maybe not. So when they targeted me, I knew I couldn't stay - no matter how much I wanted to.

I tried to get to safety in Australia, but instead the Australian government sent me to Manus Island. I could tell you such horrible stories about this place, about the violence and the hopelessness. It's soul-destroying, being here.

I'm 26, all I  want is to be free and safe. I'm happy to work hard - I would love to start a business again.

But instead, I've been here, in this same detention centre, for three years and 16 days. I have lost three years of my life. I hope I don't lose a fourth.

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Photo by: Mathew Abbott