Para Paheer grew up in the midst of the Sri Lankan civil war. When the war ended in appalling horror nearly thirty years later, Para sought Asylum in Australia, boarding a tiny overcrowded boat and crossing the Indian Ocean at great danger to himself. His boat capsized, and all seemed lost until he was miraculously rescued by the gas tanker LNG Pioneer – on his birthday! From here, he was taken to the Christmas Island Detention Centre.
While inside the Detention Centre, Para began corresponding with Alison Corke, a member of Rural Australians for Refugees. Their pen-friendship continued and became a lifeline of support for Para. Upon his release in 2011, Para moved in with Alison and her family.
In 2017, Para was granted Australian Citizenship, and shortly after, his beloved wife and son were able to join him – a joyous reunion, following eight years of forced separation.