Mustafa reflects on his journey from refugee to CVGT Australia

In recognition of Refugee Week, CVGT Australia employment consultant Mustafa shares his story of being a young refugee from war-torn Afghanistan to a fulfilling and successful life in Australia.

Mustafa’s story is nothing short of inspiring. It has been 10 years since he fled the brutality of war in Afghanistan and settled in Shepparton in north-central Victoria.

Mustafa lives a happy life with his wife and soon-to-be baby. Through his work with CVGT Australia he inspires people to overcome their challenges and reach their full potential.

The journey has been a long, tough and dangerous one for Mustafa and his three siblings. He grew up in Khas Uruzgan as part of the Hazara community.

“The Hazara people have been persecuted in Afghanistan for hundreds of years,” says Mustafa. “My childhood memories are of fights and violence on the streets due to the conflict between the government and the Taliban.

“Being Hazara we couldn’t do daily activities or go to school. We are openminded people, who wanted our kids in school and women to work. This made us targets.”

In 2005, aged 10, he and his three siblings fled the war in Afghanistan and took refuge in Pakistan. They arrived with nothing but each other, leaving friends and loved ones behind.

“It was a really tough time. We had to start from scratch, we didn’t know anyone or what to do. It was a big shock and big change in culture,” says Mustafa.

After six years in Pakistan, Mustafa and his siblings were granted sponsorship to Australia. The Rohani siblings boarded the flight from Kabul to Melbourne.

“It was a big relief boarding that flight. Arriving in Australia, feeling safe and seeing all the beautiful places is something I won’t forget,” says Mustafa.

Mustafa had little education in Afghanistan and came to Australia not knowing the English language or much about Australian culture.

“Even though I had a tough childhood, I still had a goal to achieve and do better for myself and the community,” says Mustafa.

When Mustafa arrived in Shepparton he began learning English at the Shepparton English Language Centre. From there, he was able to finish his schooling whilst working as a cook and then manager at KFC.

“At one point I was working three jobs. It was tough at times and sometimes I found it hard to fit in. I stayed focussed and took every opportunity so I could have a good life,” he said.

Mustafa was offered a role at the Shepparton English Language Centre as a family liaison officer. He was in this position for more than five years joining CVGT Australia as an employment consultant for the jobactive program in Shepparton.

Mustafa takes pride in being able to relate to people who have been refugees and from the Afghanistan community in Shepparton. He is able to help them overcome barriers to what they want to achieve.

“People know my story so they can’t get away with saying I can’t do this. Some people look to me as a role model. We all share stories and can understand each other,” he says.

Mustafa has a message of hope for people who are looking for work and unsure where to turn.

“A lot of my clients have a refugee background, not only from Afghanistan but from all over. If people have problems with English or feeling like they can’t fit in or find work, there is help out there. I have always wanted to change people’s lives and help people with employment.”

Refugee Week this year marks Mustafa’s 10-year anniversary of arriving in Australia. He feels a sense of peace at being able to reflect on his journey as a refugee and how much he has achieved in the past ten years.

“It’s a really lovely feeling to be recognised on Refugee Week. A big thing for me was buying my own home. I hope people read my story and see what they can achieve.”

Refugee Week celebrates the positive contribution refugees have made to Australian society. See the Refugee Week website for more information and events.

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