The MRSI Story

Zhian Eli is the Founder and President International Student Rescue Mission (MRSI).

This is her story …

In 1977 the Iraqi’s Ba’ath regime took away my name when I was born because they did not want Kurdish names!

In 1986 they took away my mum when I was 9 yrs old because she was Kurdish.

In 1990 I became an exile and walked in bare feet to Iran from the centre of Iraq. Seven days and nights 24/7 while bombs rained around my head when I was 13 yrs old.

In 1991 I became exiled again and took away from me home, education, friends and family, and became a refugee in Syria when I was 14 yrs old. My torture continued for 7 yrs by carrying 40 litres of water in each hand each day, more than three times, that is more than six times going and coming in all sorts of weather Snow, rain, hot and raining sand in the open grave until I was 20yrs old.

In 1997 exiled again to New Zealand, but before arriving in Hong Kong my mother had a minor stroke and was paralysed for a year, and I had to decide to be free and live like a robot with no feeling and care or choose my parents and look after them forever and make up for what they were through by giving them 1000% of my love and attention!

I have given my life to my parents. And my experiences in life made me determined to provide equally to the community and refugees no matter what race, religion or colour, and so in New Zealand I started International Student Rescue Mission to help young people in refugee camps. It is a registered charity with the New Zealand government.

But unfortunately, my family which had been together in the refugee camp in Syria was separated when some were sent to different countries. It made things very difficult for my family, and if it weren’t for the good New Zealanders, especially from Dunedin, I would not be alive today.

Now, after 20 yrs, I became exile again because my parent’s last wish was to die in their first homeland. The only way was to try to do it in stages, so we made the flight from Auckland to Vancouver, planning to rest with my brother there before continuing to Kurdistan. Unfortunately, mum had heart failure and required surgery and now could not travel. So we were stuck in Canada and lost in transaction!!!

In 2017 we were waiting to see what Canada decided for me when I am 40 yrs old!!!? Guess what nothing was done. Except for good people in the community helped us in different ways to cope until January 2019 when mum and dad ended up in the hospital. They didn’t treat them just kept them there to die.

25th March 2019 I left my parents to return to NZ and renew my visa but couldn’t go back and in May dad passed away and mum on 16 Oct 2019.

2020 decided to study and restarted my community work.


Tell us your story so that we can share it in this site.