When you listen to Hossein Haghi’s story you can’t help but be staggered by his courage, humility, determination and optimism about the future.

Seven years ago Hossein and his wife arrived by boat after a horrific journey, fleeing for their lives from Iran.

We took the risk and put our lives in danger to escape, passing through the ocean to achieve something bigger.

Hossein Haghi, 2020 Bachelor of Paramedicine

Determination for a better future

The couple were detained at Christmas Island for nine months before being sent to offshore detention. Both battled depression. As a result, Hossein’s wife had to be hospitalised.

We mentally struggled as they were trying to send us away to off-shore detention in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. At Christmas Island the hygiene was really bad and sometimes the immigration offices treated us very badly.

They were sent to Darwin for treatment and then onto Adelaide before that detention camp closed. During their 18 months in detention they lived in filthy conditions, suffering abuse and hardship, but Hossein was able to focus on the possibility of creating a meaningful and safe life in Australia.

I needed to do something big to change the mentality of the Australian Government about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who are just trying to find a peaceful life.

Hossein spent his time in detention learning English. He had a fierce determination to study and open new opportunities for his future.

Education is the key to success

Because we needed to survive in Australia I had to find work. I worked in a car wash for $8 an hour and then at an abattoir for two and a half years, which was an incredibly hard job; but we needed to survive and I knew if I could save money I would be able to study.

To study meant great financial sacrifice. Hossein worked full time and studied in the evening completing Certificates III and IV in Fitness. These courses cost $10,000 a year. He had no savings and all his money went to his education.

English is Hossein’s third language so he faced incredible challenges in the classroom. He struggled to listen to and take notes at the same time, and relied on his memory to learn. He had to work harder than most students to succeed – and despite these setbacks, he did.

But Hossein felt he could offer more. He wanted to study nursing, to give back to his community. At this point a friend told him about the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s free courses. From that moment Hossein’s path was set.

With help from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Victoria University’s Western Melbourne English Program, Hossein was accepted into a Nursing Preparation course in 2018. He also managed to secure a part-time work in aged care to support his studies. His life was finally changing.

I was really happy that I could study and work as well, I felt good. I felt that my life was slowly changing and I was finding my purpose to help others and improve the community.

Giving back to the community

Victoria University then encouraged Hossein to consider studying Paramedicine. He seized the opportunity, completing a Diploma of Paramedical Science in 2019 before accepting an Asylum Seekers Scholarship and commencing a Bachelor Paramedicine in February 2020.

When I received the scholarship it was like a new light in my life and I knew I could do more and contribute to my community. This scholarship changes my life a lot and it has helped me to pay my course fees which I couldn’t pay for on my own.

Hossein’s story shows how the Asylum Seeker Scholarship changes lives.  His courage and determination is inspirational and we can’t wait see what he does next.

I am proud when I wear my Ambulance Victoria uniform, I can see people respect me and accept me as an Australian even though the Australian Government doesn’t accept me yet.

The government may not yet officially recognise his contribution, but we celebrate Hossein as an invaluable member of our community. And we thank the inspired support of donors who made it possible.

Contact us

If you want to change a life like Hossein’s and shape our community for the better, you can donate at ways to give.