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Refugee family’s long journey to safety

1 December 20201 comment

A family that has been on the move for eighteen years because of threats, persecution and conflict have found a home and new lives in Melbourne.

Sahar Saloom and her daughters Raghdah and Abeer are now living in the city’s north after arriving as refugees last year.

The family are minority Chaldeans from Mosul, in northern Iraq, who fled their home in 2002 after kidnap threats were made against two of the children.

The family moved to Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, but were forced to flee again to Syria.

But when the ISIS driven conflict flared in Syria they were forced to return to Erbil. And when the conflict followed them there, the fled once more – this time to Lebanon.

After four years in Lebanon, the family received a refugee visa through the UNHCR and were resettled in Australia. The family agreed to share their story on the condition their images were not published – for fear of putting in danger family member’s still living in the Middle East.                             

They have been supported on their journey by AMES Australia staff who have connected the with English language providers, helped them find a pathway to employment and assisted them with finding long-term accommodation.

Sahar and her daughters were very keen to improve their English skill so they could find work and become financially independent.

Their AMES Australia Case Manager Kameron Khoshaba referred them to the Adult Migrant English Program at Kanban institute and then assisted the family with implementing employment strategies.

Kameron showed how to apply for jobs through online job seeking platforms.

“We sent the family illustrative photos giving them a step by step overview on how to make an account on the employment platforms and how to apply for jobs,” Kameron said.

“When the Individualised Pathway Plan “IPP” was introduced in AMES Australia, we recommended all members of the family meet the IPP Employment Broker to discuss their potential work pathways and what options are available for them to find a job based on their skills.

“The family was able to participate in the IPP program and later all members of the family had an opportunity to get employed on a casual basis in a food processing company and restaurant.

Sahar, Raghad and Abeer say they happy to have been able to find a job even though it was on a casual basis.

“This their first step and Sahar and her two daughters have said that they would like to keep developing their skills so they could be able to find ongoing and stable job so they could become more financially independent,” Kameron said.

AMES Australia has also supported Sahar and her family to settle in Australia by sourcing new long-term accommodation for them after they struggled with the process of leasing a new house, especially during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Kameron liaised with the AMES accommodation team until the family successfully sourced and moved to a new accommodation.

“We feel very settled and safe in Australia. We’ve been through a lot and we are happy to be in Australia, which is a great country,” Sahar said.

“Now our goal is to find proper employment to support ourselves,” she said.

Sahar’s two daughter are working part-time in a local cake factory. But the work is irregular and Sahar and her daughters are now being supported to find full-time work.

“But we feel very confident and independent and we are looking forward to next phase of our new lives in Australia,” Sahar said.