From refugee to university student, Eid Yousef is giving back to the organisation that helped him land on his feet.
The Mount Druitt resident, 22, is studying medical science at the University of NSW. A bright student, he hopes to study post-graduate medicine.
This year Mr Yousef started volunteering for SydWest Multicultural Services with their homework support program, offering his expertise in maths and sciences to high school students.
“Before I started with SydWest I did homework support for a different organisation, with small children. It was a pretty awesome experience so I decided to take the next level,” he said.
“I love to share my experience. I love to help others.
“I received so much help when I first came to Australia, and I would like to pay it back and help others.”
Mr Yousef was among more than 50 volunteers who were formally thanked by SydWest last week as part of National Volunteer Week. Many of the organisation’s volunteers and staff are refugees or migrants.
Studying and volunteering is far cry from the war that interrupted Mr Yousef’s normal life just a few years ago.
He was like any other year 11 student before helicopters started firing missiles above his house.
“Syria was a normal country. Then something happened and everything changed,” he said.
Like many young Syrian men, he was afraid of the forced conscription that would soon see him sent away to the battlefield.
Mr Yousef remembers the relief of coming to Australia, as well as the confusion. Everything from the language to the education system was “very different”.
“There were not many Syrians here,” he said. “But I met many different sorts of people and made good relationships. That’s how I’m surviving.”
He enrolled in the Intensive English Centre at Evans High School and finished a year-long language course in six months, then achieved his higher school certificate.
His family’s story is one of 11 that appeared in a booklet, Stories of Making Australia Home, produced by SydWest last year.
Mr Yousef said he enjoys helping other migrant students achieve their goals.
“If the students are keen and determined, they will achieve what they want,” he said.
“It’s a very lovely experience. I would say if any volunteer would like to do that, give it a go. Try it. It’s very good, especially when you make a difference in the results of these students.
“I would say just give it a go, share your experience, and have fun.”