Layla Tomaeve from Azerbaijan


Born in Baku, Azerbaijan: 1979

Arrived in Australia: 1999

Immortalised in Eric Clapton's best-known romantic song, the name Layla is Persian and means ‘starry night'. Layla's mother met her Australian husband when they were both working for the International Red Cross in Azerbaijan. In 1999 she came to Australia, leaving Layla to finish her nursing degree at the Baku Medical College. Unfortunately for Layla, when she arrived here her qualifications were not recognised and difficulties with conversing in English hindered her attempts to find work. Seven years on, and speaking English with little trace of an accent, she is now employed in a pathology business, taking blood samples for examination. She recently returned to Azerbaijan for a visit and found things improving in the post-Soviet satellite. Layla says that development of Azerbaijan's vast oil reserves have resulted in some improvement in quality of life for the country's impoverished people.