When Yasser Ibrahim arrived in Australia in 2017, he knew little about the country that would become his new home.
Teacher aide and refugee Yasser Ibrahim has found his calling in youth work.
Although Mr Ibrahim has faced many challenges, with the support of Settlement Services International (SSI) he found accommodation within a community he loves and completed tertiary studies to pursue his dream job, supporting youth in all aspects of their lives.
After completing a teacher aide course at TAFE, he worked full-time as a Learning Support Officer at Fairfield High School on a year-long contract.
“It was a dream come true that I was offered a job in Fairfield High School as Education Aid, where I supported students in academic achievements in all different subjects,” Mr Ibrahim said.
“Students from years 7 to 12 were approaching me for support in personal issues and life struggles as well.”
Mr Ibrahim has also completed a Certificate 4 in Youth Work and is currently studying a Diploma in Counselling. He has volunteered at youth centres and other organisations in the city for over two years now.
“Teaching is my dream job, and I am very happy where I am now. The whole experience has been very good,” he said.
Mr Ibrahim was granted asylum to Australia when religious persecution caused him to fear for his life.
“My pastor came up with the idea of leaving Egypt as my life was at great risk. If it was my choice, I never would think to leave Egypt but I was so grateful to the Australian government to give me this chance and save my life,” he said.
Despite his deep sense of relief when granted asylum, the move to Australia came with a set of complex personal challenges.
Mr Ibrahim had to leave his three sons (aged 19, 17 and 10) in Egypt with their mother, who had terminated all contact with him as a direct consequence of him changing his faith.
Moving to a foreign country can be a daunting experience, especially when you are completely alone. Mr Ibrahim said when he arrived in Sydney airport he was overwhelmed by a bittersweet sense of loss and gratitude.
“I was excited to come to Australia as I would have the freedom to be myself, which was not the case back in Egypt,” he said.
“But I was worried because I was coming to a place where I knew nobody.”
Once in Australia, Mr Ibrahim received full wrap-around refugee support services provided by SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Program, including securing accommodation and supporting him to navigate his everyday life.
Mr Ibrahim spent his first three months in a granny flat in Granville, before gaining long-term accommodation in Kings Cross.
“I chose to live in Kings Cross because I wanted to meet with people from different faiths and backgrounds,” he said.
“It’s very safe and I’m trying to make friends from the neighbourhood.”
His case manager worked with him extensively to provide him with relevant information, easing his life in a country where he had no family or friends.
In Egypt, Mr Ibrahim graduated with a degree in agriculture and had worked for many years as a production manager. Since moving to Australia, he has pursued teaching as a career because he has a strong command of English and is passionate about education.
“I am here to make a positive contribution to the society and help others as much as I can.”