Bashar and his family were living the perfect life in Iraq. Bashar was running his own architectural company with his wife, they had just built their dream home, and their children were excelling at school. They were forced to give it all up for fear of being persecuted for their religious beliefs.
"The tribulations of life were there even before I was born. My father’s family were annihilated in 1969 in the fighting that took place in their small peaceful village. My grandfather was killed as well as many unarmed farmers and innocent women and children. Fast forward to 2014 and we were facing our own nightmares" Bashar said.
In June 2014, ISIS took control of Mosul and were just 90 kilometres away from Bashar and his family’s home town. Bashar knew that they didn’t have long to pack their bags and move to safety.
"In August 2014, the time came for my family and I to leave Iraq as ISIS was fast approaching. That night we packed up as many belongings as we could fit into suitcases and went to the airport. At that point ISIS was only 45 kilometres away," Bashar said.
"We were forced to give up a life in a country we loved, our business and our beautiful home because we knew our safety and my children’s future was priority".
Bashar and his family fled to Turkey where they spoke with family members in Australia who had previously migrated about how to apply for visas as part of the Humanitarian Programme. In July 2015, Bashar and his family were granted humanitarian visas as part of the Community Proposal Pilot and arrived in Melbourne.
"When we received the news that my family had been granted visas we were so thankful. We knew we’d have a wonderful life in Australia," said Bashar.
Bashar’s parents and siblings were forced to flee to Australia as refugees in 2004 due to the complete collapse of the security system in Baghdad at the time.
"Arriving into Melbourne airport I got to see my parents and brother for the first time in more than 10 years and my sister for the first time in 20 years. I also met my nephews and nieces for the first time. It was amazing and something we will never forget," said Bashar.
Bashar and his family were keen to settle in right away and contribute to the country they now call home. Bashar gained employment as a draftsman using his architectural qualifications, his wife started studying English so she too could gain employment as an architect and the kids settled into school.
"I am enjoying my job, but would love to use my architectural skills on projects here in Australia. My dream for the long term future is to open my own architectural firm as I did in Iraq. I will continue to work towards that," said Bashar.
"My kids settled into school straight away and have made some great friends. They are achieving great academic results and we are really proud of them. I know they will grow up in this country, get great jobs and continue to give back to the country we are now proud to call home".
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