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Refugee academic now supporting other displaced people

28 February 20240 comments

Muqtader Yousafzai was the youngest Afghan to be awarded a full scholarship to study for a PhD. In 2020, he travelled to India to take up his doctoral studies in business administration.

But when, in October 2021, Kabul fell to the Taliban and the Afghan government collapsed, his future seemed uncertain.

The collapse of Afghanistan meant Muqtader’s mother and brother were forced to flee their homeland.

And he soon realised that because he had previously worked in a senior role in Afghanistan’s interior ministry, it meant he also could not return to Afghanistan.

“I had worked as a VIP member of the government. It was my job to work closely with the government VIPs. Before starting work as a VIP member, I was working as policy and strategy advisor to the ministry of commerce and industry in Afghanistan,” Muqtader said.

“Meanwhile, I was also a university lecturer and have three years of experience in this field. I was teaching business subjects in both Master’s and Bachelor’s degree courses. I have was interviewed on TV about economic issues more than 30 times as well as and being Guest lecturer. 

“My mother was also a senior official in the Ministry of Defence and our family was well known in Afghanistan.

“This meant we could not return home to Afghanistan as we would have been targets of the Taliban.”

Fortunately, Muqtader has been able to continue with his studies and complete his PhD at Lucknow University.

“I have published research papers related to business administration in International Journals,” he said

A few days after the fall of Kabul, Muqtader’s mother was able to get on a flight to leave Afghanistan safely.

“She went to Europe and then came to Australia on a humanitarian visa,” he said.

Muqtader arrived in Melbourne in May 2023 and was reunited with his mother and one brother.

He is now working as Acting Case Manager with migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia.

“I’ve been working with AMES for three months and I’m enjoying the work. It’s rewarding to be supporting people who are also arriving as refugees,” Muqtader said.

“The team and all of my colleagues are awesome.”

Despite giving online lecture for universities outside Australia, Muqtader keens to returning to academia.

“In India, when I was studying, I was also teaching business administration. Academia was my comfort zone,” he said.

Muqtader says I want to be a role model and represent Australia in different areas.

Muqtader says this country is full of opportunities and he wants to make a contribution.

“For now I am focusing on my role with AMES and I would like to progress in the settlement and humanitarian sector. But I would like to do both academia and work for society.”

Muqtader says he and his family are happy with their new lives in Australia.

“Life is good for us. We are doing well and we are very happy to be in Australia,” he said.

Muqtader also thanked Australia for providing the opportunity to come here.

“Australia was my favourite country as a kid. I always thought that if I was to leave Afghanistan I would want to go to Australia. It was my childhood dream.

“I’ve been a cricket and sports fan since I was four-years-old and I always liked the Australian team. I could name the entire squad.”

Muqtader still plays cricket and soccer with friends in pick-up games.