Refugee Sami Sheebo has been subjected to injustice, persecution and has experienced hardships and challenges that many of us could not fathom. Despite all of this, he is thriving in Australia and has committed himself to making a positive impact on the lives of other refugees.
Sami’s story originates from Iraq, where he was born as a Yazdi – the people of the oldest religion in the world that dates back 7000 years ago.
In 2014, Sami’s hometown was attacked by ISIS. The men of his city tried to defend themselves, with the women and children trying to escape to the mountain. Unfortunately, a small village was surrounded and ISIS captured nearly 5000 women and children; and killed 1000 men. At this time, Sami was 23 years old and worked as a Pharmacy Assistant. He witnessed a lot of his people severely injured and dying.
ISIS arrested Sami, but he managed to escape to the mountain. At the time it was summer, so very hot, and he didn’t have any access to food or water. Sami and his people were surrounded, with no way in or out.
“I stayed here for about 2 weeks and then the International Coalition came by plane and delivered supplies to us. They helped us to escape to Syria and then to Kurdistan,” said Sami.
Following this, Sami lived in a camp and worked with the Migrant Media Network to help support other refugees.
Then in 2018 a program was opened by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help people affected by war (survivors of ISIS); they brought Sami and his family to Australia.
Now living in Coffs Harbour, NSW with his parents and sister, Sami commenced an Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) through TAFE for 6 months, followed by some volunteer work with a refugee clinic. He secured himself a job at Orara High School as a part time Teachers Aid as well as a part time Translator role with Department of Home Affairs (who he still works with to this day).
Following this, Sami started working with NORTEC Staffing Solution, after they offered him a position as a Refugee and Multicultural Mentor, which he continued with for 3 years. When NORTEC closed its doors in 2022, Sami started job searching and came across an advertisement to work for Enterprise and Training Company (ETC) as a Jobs Advisor.
Sami is celebrating his 1-year anniversary with ETC and is proud of what he has achieved in his time working there.
“Through the Workforce Australia Employment Services, my role as a Jobs Advisor enables me to provide support and work with CALD customers on goal setting, building understanding of cultural aspects of workplace and soft skills for employment. I also assist them with job searching and securing employment,” said Sami.
“I feel proud to work for ETC as we help many local refugees through our employment and training services. Plus, ETC is a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity who gives financial support to migrant and refugee organisations”.
Each month, Sami sets himself a goal to help as many of his customers as possible, to help make a positive impact on their lives. Since he commenced with ETC he has supported 65 CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) job seekers into employment. He has even received accolades from local employers, attesting to his expertise and dedication.
Sami said since his time living in Australia, he has felt very welcomed.
“The local community embraced me and made my transition here easy. Even working for ETC, I’ve never felt like an outsider,” he said.
“Still to this day we don’t know what has happened to many of our people. I feel very grateful to be living in Australia with my family and contributing to the success of other refugees.”
We asked Sami, if he could change one misconception about refugees, what would it be?
“Don’t judge a book by its cover. Say no to racism and discrimination,” he said.
Sami’s story was also published by the Department of Home Affairs under their Refugee and Humanitarian program >
During Refugee Week, we wanted to highlight the positive contribution that refugees like Sami make to our communities.
The ultimate aim of the celebration is to create better understanding between different communities and encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live safely and continue making a valuable contribution to Australia.
Sami’s inspiring refugee success story is a great example of this year’s theme: Finding Freedom.
Learn more about Refugee Week >
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