Zak fled persecution in Afghanistan to find a new life and a new home in Australia. Today, he is a valued member of the team at a local food manufacturer and genuinely committed to helping others in the Dandenong community.
After being attacked by the Taliban and narrowly escaping, Zak had no choice but to leave his family and flee Afghanistan. His path to Australia wound through several countries and stretched across many months, ending in Dandenong after his release from a detention centre.
After transferring from another provider and being on the WISE Employment books for just four days, Zak landed a role with a small food manufacturing and distribution company arranged by WISE Employment Dandenong team member Diane. “I could tell Zak was a good soul, with a tough story. He just needed an employer who would give him a chance,” said Diane.
That chance came in the form of employer Michael. Zak came on board as a kitchen hand but quickly progressed and after being promoted several times in his three years with the company, is now Assistant Production Manager.
Michael said, “Zak has some rare characteristics in an employee. He really thinks ahead, sometimes quite a long way forward, and he works out ways to make things easier for others in the team. He also has a very happy personality which makes a big difference.”
Zak enjoys working and values the company that gave him a go when he first arrived. “The first job I get in Australia and I’m lucky enough to find an employer like this? It’s just lovely. It’s friendly, we look out for each other and we discuss things together,” he said.
Zak says that having a job means a lot to him. “When you have a job, you can handle your life, and you can help others. I am not that person to just lie down and take Centrelink – I like to pay tax because I live in this beautiful country and I take it as my responsibility to contribute to it.”
And contribute he has. After noticing that there were several teenage refugees who could be in danger of slipping through the cracks, Zak and his friend started a soccer team* for the group, funding it themselves. “They are refugees from Afghanistan like me. Through sport I want to help them continue their life in the right way,” he said.
Zak says that working has made him happier, given him a purpose, allowed him to send money to his family, to study and to support his community. He has a dream to one day start his own business.
*Anyone interested in making small or large donations to the soccer team Zak started for teenage refugees in Melbourne, can email us for more information.