Originally from Myanmar, Aung was forced to leave in 2005, making his way to Malaysia where he was registered as a refugee.

He lived there for more than a decade and struggled to survive, eventually being forced to find some off-the-books work in a lightbulb factory. The work was dangerous and difficult but Aung had few rights and was forced to endure the conditions he was dealt.

New Zealand immigration officials eventually interviewed Aung and granted him one of the 750 resettlement places available for quota refugees. In 2015, Aung landed in New Zealand to begin his new life as a Kiwi.

Resettlement is a process that can take time and the first step is grasping the language. Aung spent his first 18 months in the country studying English before being offered a job at Jag Kitchens, an Auckland-based company which designs, manufactures, and installs kitchen cabinets.

“When I came to New Zealand I asked for a job that allows me to work with furniture and then Red Cross Pathways to Employment helped find me this job,” he says.

It was an ideal position that suited employer and employee, the part-time work allowed Aung to continue his English studies while gaining vital work experience.

The managers at Jag Kitchens were incredibly impressed with Aung’s work and he was offered a full-time position a few months later.

The comraderie and teamwork amongst the staff is evident with Aung fitting in well.

“We enjoy his personality and willingness to learn, he’s very participative in work and social life, attending social events outside of work hours and bringing his wife,” says Alison Cary, Manager of Jag Kitchens.

“He’s really made an effort to be part of the team which is important because we are a small organisation so it helps if employees are socially involved.”

Alison says she wouldn’t hesitate in working with Red Cross Pathways to Employment again, saying the support she’s received has been excellent and the jobseekers Red Cross works with are very skilled.

“I would encourage people to use the programme because there are talented people that can be a positive addition to any workplace and I think that coming from a refugee background has made them more resilient with a stronger character.”

If you're an employer with an available position please contact our Pathways to Employment team here.