It’s approaching six o’clock in the evening and Hussein and Ahmed Ali are tying their aprons. There are few customers in this Turkish kebab shop at the moment but they’ll begin to trickle in throughout the night.

The Palestinian brothers were born in Iraq, a country they were forced to flee in 2007 due to the war. After living as refugees for almost a decade, they were accepted to be resettled in New Zealand.

At the end of 2016 they arrived in a country thousands of miles from everything they knew and were settled in Dunedin, a city that was totally unfamiliar.

Hussein and Ahmed both have excellent English and are ambitious young men. It didn’t take long for them to enrol in further study; Hussein is pursuing Occupational Therapy while Ahmed’s passions lie in IT.

In early 2017 they approached Red Cross’ Pathways to Employment Team to ask about finding a part-time job to support their study. A Turkish Kebab shop in Mosgiel was hiring and the brothers were offered some work which Hussein says suits them perfectly.

“It’s something that is close to our culture and we know. The owner is very kind and treats everyone equal.”

Emrah Arik is the owner the shop and says the brothers have been an excellent addition to the small team.

“They are very responsible, always come in on time, try to learn, and are always talking and smiling with the customers.”

A group of university students enter the shop and Hussein shows off the smile Emrah was talking about. The two of them get to work filling the orders, skilfully dodging each other as they make their way around the kitchen, juggling multiple orders at once.

Within minutes, the group has exited the shop, dinner in hand.

It’s clear that Hussein and Ahmed love their job, their study, and their lives in Dunedin. Although the plan is to eventually leave this part-time work and pursue their fields of study, they’re content with where they are at the moment.

“We have a new life, new future, and new opportunity. New Zealand has helped us a lot and we hope we make a difference in our lives.”

How to help

Our Pathways to Employment teams work with a range of clients from refugee backgrounds who have a wide variety of skills. If you're an employer with an available position, you can contact your Pathways to Employment team here.