“After the Tampa” – Book signing and dinner address in New Zealand
Pictured (L to R): Abbas Nazari, Consoeur Abina Pope DMG, NZ Hospitaller Confrere Bevan Killick KMG, former NZ Ambassador to Afghanistan, Brigadier Neville Reilly NZGS ONZM.
Report by Bevan Killick
On the 7 October 2021, the 450th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, South Island based members of the Order were greeted with “As-salamu Alaykum” (“Peace be upon you”) and dined on Afghani cuisine. The event was a book signing dinner and address from Abbas Nazari, refugee, Fulbright scholar and bestselling author of “After the Tampa”.
When the Taliban were at the height of their power in 2001, Abbas Nazari’s parents were faced with the choice: stay and face persecution in their homeland, or seek security for their young children elsewhere. The family’s desperate search for safety took them on a harrowing journey from the mountains of Afghanistan to a small fishing boat in the Indian Ocean, crammed with more than 300 other asylum seekers. When the boat started to sink, they were mercifully saved by a cargo ship, the Tampa. Abbas and his family were resettled in Christchurch, New Zealand. Abbas graduated from the University of Canterbury and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the United States where he attained a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, Washington DC.
In his book, “After the Tampa”, Abbas tells a powerful and inspiring story for our times, celebrating the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit – hope.
The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was renowned soldier and former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Brigadier Neville Reilly NZGS ONZM, at one time, New Zealand’s most highly decorated living service person. Brigadier Reilly provided expert comments on the book and broader context.
The evening challenged us was we seek to serve Our Lords the Sick and the Poor. Who is our neighbour? And how can we do more for refugees as New Zealand lags being most counties in the number of refugees we rehome.