Oscar Al-kinani is just 20 years old but already he’s achieved several milestones that have brought him closer to his goal of working with an international humanitarian organisation.
Since arriving in Australia 19 months ago as a refugee from Iraq, Oscar has completed English language and high school qualifications and he is now on track to finishing a TAFE certificate in community services.
Oscar Al-kinani: “Once you have a goal, you work for it and you work hard for it.”
Mr Al-kinani’s big piece of advice for other refugees is to prioritise education and goals.
“Everyone here should have a goal,” he said. “Once you have a goal, you work for it and you work hard for it!”
Mr Al-kinani said he drew courage from his mother, who is studying a diploma in childcare services at TAFE, at age 59.
“No matter what your age, you have to look for what you really want,” he said. “For example, my mum, when she chose to do childcare, chose the path of education and work because she told me, ‘I don’t want to stay at home, I just want to keep busy’.”
Mr Al-kinani is also working part-time and volunteering with Settlement Services International (SSI) two days a week, where he provides new arrivals with social support, such as transport and orientation.
“The reason I chose to be a volunteer with SSI in April last year was to give back what I received,” Mr Al-kinani said. “SSI helped me a lot. No matter what I’m going to do, it’s not enough because SSI has done a lot for me and that’s changed my life.”
When Al-kinani arrived in Australia in July 2014, with his mother, he initially found it difficult to adjust to the new language and way of communicating.
“SSI helped us a lot to understand this world better, but I found it hard,” he said. “With time, things have changed. I started to learn more stuff, I found more people around me were really friendly – if I say something wrong, they even correct my mistakes – and I started to save a lot of information. People here are really lovely.”
SSI helped Mr Al-kinani to find his first house and to start high school as part of its Humanitarian Support Services (HSS) program, which gives refugees and humanitarian entrants essential support and information to help them settle successfully in Australia.