Hassan, from Afghanistan, spent the last four years on his own as a refugee in Indonesia before arriving in Christchurch, where he was reunited with his grandparents. He is one of the first former refugees to arrive in the city via the quota since the earthquakes.

Hassan is optimistic about the future and is making the most of his new life in the city.

“I’m enrolled at Ara [Institute of Canterbury] now studying English four days a week. I go to the gym. I got my Learner’s licence – I passed the test. I got all the questions right except one which I intentionally answered wrong!” Hassan laughs.

“I now go for driving lessons with my grandad once or twice a week to learn how to drive.”

After improving his English – one of four languages he speaks – Hassan intends to study Information Technology.

“I’d love to work in IT, but first I want to focus on my English, so I can communicate,” Hassan says.

“I’d like to find a part-time job to improve my English and socialise with other young people from other cultures. I’m also keen to join a Kiwi football team because I want to improve my English as I will constantly be talking to my team players.”

Hassan and John.

John, as Hassan’s Refugee Support Volunteer, has been showing him around Christchurch, getting him signed up to a doctor, enrolled in classes, taking him shopping and explaining how things work in New Zealand more generally.

“He’s fortunate to have the strength of his family around him, but we’ve still had a lot to do,” John says.

“We’ve been clothes shopping, at appointments, out dog walking. It’s quite funny, we buy my dog an ice cream – he’s pretty amused by that.

“He talks to me about what he’s been up to in his life; he’s happy to talk about anything. We have debates about foreign policy. He’s got a good head on his shoulders and it’s good to speak to him.”

John says it’s clear Hassan has a plan for his life in New Zealand.

“He’s working towards it. His plan is there, all in his head. He’s just looking forward to the future.”

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