First Hike: Immigrants and refugees set foot into the Outback – The Feed

First Hike: Immigrants and refugees set foot into the Outback – The Feed


I’m Farouq and I’m 19 years old. I was born in Syria in a city called Aleppo. I have been plumber for around 9 years. I start working when I was 11 years old with my dad. Aleppo was so, so nice city, I really enjoyed living in Aleppo as a child, but now it’s a little bit no good. The worst day was when I was when the first bomb came in our area, in our suburb. We went to the street, and we saw the blood and some of the people who doesn’t have a head or he lost his arm or leg. Most of them they dead. They didn’t live any more. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m thinking too much about that. I just try to forget all of that and forget all that I saw. A lot of the students that are here at Northlake are very newly arrived to Australia. They’ve been living in a war zone, they’ve dealt with refugee camps they’ve been through an incredible amount of trauma. And while they’re extremely grateful to be here this can be the most traumatic time of their life. They feel isolated, and some of them for the first time in their lives will think about suicide. I actually saw First Hike project on social media. So I made contact with Neil. First Hike Project aims to introduce newly arrived people, people who haven’t experienced the bush to the great outback we’ve got. We’re going to come pick you up tomorrow at 7 o’clock. I spent the last ten or eleven years in construction; heavy industry, mining. Very far from any of the refugees slash settlement services. Have a good sleep! Give that about a 20% chance of working. Neil is a breath of fresh air. He’s had no professional experience in the area. He’s just a guy who loves the bush. That’s funny, that guy has cancelled twice. Might be a little too scary for him. There’s a couple that are like, ‘why would you want to sleep in the bush?’ Why would you want to do that when you’ve got a bed at home? How long have you been in Australia? One year? Welcome. When people first met each other they’re a little sceptical, they’re not quite sure what is going to unfold. 7 months? Oh you are fresh! Yeah. Welcome. Miss Karen came to us and say we have First Hike project. And I said okay. Just want to say thanks very much for coming. I haven’t been in Australian bush before. If you see a snake, just stop. If it runs after you, then run away. You’ve just got to run faster. Follow Ali, he’s the leader. Just for now. Within the first kilometre it’s such a great leveller. Everybody gets the same amount of tired, everybody gets the same amount of hungry and so all of our differences fall away. It’s sometimes the first time in years that it’s all been lifted off and they’ve got not one thing to worry about. It’s just horrific really, some of the things that these guys have been through. Still living in Afghanistan, my family. Oh really? Yeah, I am alone here. For one month I come in Australia. Yeah. In Ethiopia, I’m farmer. It’s difficult life as farmer. Caleb has come here with an orphan visa. I’m very relaxing in this environment. With these people. We’re not tired. We have just made it to halfway. We are just at the halfway. I don’t think you’re even halfway. We’re not even halfway?! Okay, we’re tired. We’re not at the halfway we’re tired now. Basically I will introduce myself. Hi, my name is Ali, I am nineteen years old and I am a boat person. Whenever First Hike project come, I just cook for them. I was only 15 when I left Pakistan. Where I grow up there’s like every single day there was a bomb blast, target killing. Always I was wondering I will be next. Whenever we go out to school or the market, we say goodbye to all the family. Because we don’t have a hope to come back. I know lot of people when I met with them first they have a wrong idea about boat people. They was keep saying they are terrorist. I’m a migrant. I’m a Scottish, South-African Australian. I found the doors wide open when I came here. Like come on in, you’re great. And not everyone experiences that. Some of the country doesn’t like refugees and we feel like, so sad about that because we don’t have another choice. It’s disappointing when politics becomes the deciding factor and not humanity. We just want to make another life here. Change all the life. Yeah. Outside we have a different colour but from inside the blood is same. We all human. We have made it. We have done it! We’ve got to find the door. Where’s the door? Here, the door’s here. This guy had never been hiking, never been camping, and he woke up in the morning and he was shivering. He was freezing, and he said, it would’ve been good if we had a blanket. And I said, but we had the sleeping bag. Then there was this look on his face that was just like… It was then that it dawned on me that he just slept next to the sleeping bag in the bag. So we now take the sleeping bags out. You get in. Zip it up! Sleep. Farouq, as we’ve gone along, he explained to me he’d been a second and third generation plumber which was really interesting because I’m also a third generation plumber. Neil approached me about getting Farouq some work so we did what we had to do to make it happen. For my own future actually, one of them it’s to become a good plumber. And the second one, to do something for the community, for everyone not just for myself. It would be an absolute understatement to say that Australia is better off for having these young people. One young person that I was working with, he got that little thing where they show you where your tax has gone. And he was so excited that his money had gone to help, you know, elderly people and gone to help schools and gone to help hospitals. There’s not one that I’ve met that’s just not so enthusiastic about being here, and being in Australia. And starting a new life, and just pumped to get going. Did you see that? I think it just gave them the chance to be young again. It’s so simple but it’s life changing for them. Be good. Enjoy the rest of your hike. It’s one of the best things I have done in my life. No more photoshoots in the forest. Okay? Instagram is going to explode. The support worker who had been working with them before, she told us that the transformation that happened on that weekend was just something that she’d never seen before. Sorry. We want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for them. Because they were so friendly when they welcome us here. That could be us, with a different turn of the dice. That could be us. And I’m in a position where it’s no big deal to put a hand out and give someone a hand.

3 thoughts on “First Hike: Immigrants and refugees set foot into the Outback – The Feed

  1. How to stop terrorism. Step 1: Treat refugees as human beings not potential terrorists. Step 2: Repeat Step 1.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *