Refugee family find peace, security
Last month Syrian refugee Yousif Kawerma and his family moved into a new home in Melbourne’s north and he started a new job as an aircraft maintenance engineer with Qantas.
With his three daughters now at university, Yousif is at the end of traumatic, four-year journey to safety and a new life.
In Syria, Yousif worked as an electrical engineer in a power plant in his home town of Mhardeh, in western Syria, keeping the lights on in hospitals and schools.
But everything changed for him when the Syrian conflict began, his job shifted from ensuring power supplies to dealing with missile attacks on the power plant and helping to rebuild damaged equipment.
Yousif says his town of 20,000 people was targeted by more than 10,000 missile attacks during his time working through the conflict and many houses and businesses in the town were shelled.
“The war became very bad. We were waiting for things to get better but after seven or eight years of war we decided to leave,” he said.
“The power plant was hit and damaged several time and it was our job to keep it operating. We had to keep the power on amid the war which was very difficult.
“The final straw came when a missile hit my parents’ house. Thankfully no one was hurt but that pushed us to make the decision to leave.
“We went to Lebanon but it was difficult to live there and hard to find work. The situation there was very similar to Syria and since then the economy has become very bad,” Yousif said.
Yousif and his family were sponsored to come to Australia in June 2018 by his brother, who was already living in Melbourne. His mother and another brother are still in Syria.
“Our first three months in Australia were spent getting used to a new country and learning how thigs work here,” he said.
“Then I started searching for a job. I was not doing well in interviews and I faced the barrier of not having local experience.
“The programs at AMES were very helpful. When I came to Australia, I didn’t really know how to find a job.
“Drue (AMES Career Consultant Drue Vickery) from AMES helped me. He gave me a pathway to finding a job. I didn’t find searching for jobs difficult I would go for interviews but I wasn’t successful,” Yousif said.
Yousif enrolled in AMES Australia’s Skilled Professional Migrant Program (SPMP), which equipped him with skills around resume writing, interview techniques and Australian workplace culture. It also provided him with an industry mentor.
“The course helped me a lot with how to write a resume and what to do in an interview. It helped me get my first job in Australia,” he said.
At first Yousif had to re-examine his expectations to get his first foothold in the Australian job market.
“I decided to apply to jobs as a technician and not as an engineer and focus on what I know and not what certificates I have,” he said.
“I found many jobs, mostly in calibration and I finally got work at Australian Calibration Services in Collingwood.
Last month Yousif started work a calibration technician/aircraft maintenance engineer at Melbourne Airport.
“We recently bought our first home in Australia, in Tullamarine, so I applied for a job at the airport with Qantas,” he said.
“I was one of 160 applicants, I did an interview and after three months I was offered the job.”
Yousif is working on aircraft instrumentation and the tools used to maintain aircraft.
“I’m very happy with this job – it’s my dream job – and my three daughters are at university, studying IT, design and computer science.
“I feel like our journey is complete. Now, everything is good. We are grateful to be here,” Yousif said.