SAYED Hussaini was forced to flee his home in Afghanistan and move to Iran when he was young.
Afghan refugee Sayed Hussaini talks to WENDY WILLIAMS about finding work at Jimmy Possum
After decades of waiting and living as a refugee he has come to Bendigo with his family to make a new life.
They arrived eight months ago and have had to overcome a number of challenges, not least the language.
But after months struggling to find work, the father-of-three has been employed by furniture company Jimmy Possum, which is now calling on other local employers to embrace refugees in the workforce.
Mr Hussaini, speaking through interpreter Zahir Saberi, said he was grateful for the opportunity.
“Today I am very happy,” he said.
“I felt very alone and isolated in the first two months.
“It was very hard moving here and very hard to find a job
“For me staying at home was a big problem, I didn’t like it. I felt isolated and sick of doing nothing; I was bored.
“But when my daughter Attena was born in Bendigo the whole thing changed for me and I settled in well."
Mr Hussaini said he liked Australia.
“The most important thing is peace," he said.
“I was in Iran for 25 years but I never miss it, because the government’s behaviour and attitude was not good towards refugees.
“My children got left out of childcare because they were Afghan even though they were born in Iran. My wife Fatimah is from Iran.
“Now for the first time my children Arman and Amir are in school. They started last year and they love it.
“Our eldest son, Arman, 7, got an Endeavour Award at school and can speak English better than me."
Mr Hussaini said one problem is Australians do not know refugees.
"I think most Australians, because of what they think of as Islam, they do not believe we are Muslim if they look at us, we are not what they think.
“It is very hard for other people to trust us. But if someone trusts a refugee they will provide the best work.
“We are very hardworking and very interested to work.”
Jimmy Possum managing director Margot Spalding is urging other local businesses to hire refugees.
“It is very important to us at Jimmy Possum to make a contribution to the community. We like to offer opportunities to all sorts of people,” she said.
“In the beginning we didn’t have a job available but we said we could give Sayed the opportunity to work a few hours a week as work experience.
“We very quickly observed that he had a good attitude and he wanted to work; he needed to work. He had skills from employment in Afghanistan, he has a trade background.
“After four weeks' work experience we offered Sayed a position in our upholstery department.
“Communication could have been a problem but Sayed’s area leaders say his English is improving a lot and we have developed manuals that are visual and give demonstrations.
“We think it is very important for businesses to encourage and support refugees in our community.
“A lot of people in Australia are never exposed to anybody different, they don’t know any refugees, it is a very important thing to recognise that refugees are good people.
“History shows us that refugees came here in other decades and have been very successful, and worked very hard.
“We believe Afghans will be very successful too.”
Bendigo Community Health Services acting chief executive Anne Somerville said employment was important.
“It can give more than remuneration but also a feeling of belonging and is just good for our mental health.
"We couldn’t be happier for Sayed and his family to be working with Margot and the team at Jimmy Possum, a great local company supporting our community.”