20 June 2023

A hardworking and community-minded asylum seeker finds solid ground amidst some uncertainty, supported by Life Without Barriers and friends.

Image: A young man in a blue shirt holds a potted plant.

Tayeb* worked at a flower stand in his hometown as a boy. It was his parents' business, so he was at the shop from the time he was born. It instilled in him a deep love for nature, which became his source of strength through the years to come.

"Nature has always given me the strength to stay happy during my toughest times. I ran away from my home in Northeast Africa because of the war.

I had to leave my wife and son behind for our safety. I spent many years in Nauru and came to Sydney at the end of 2020," said Tayeb.

When Tayeb first arrived in Sydney, there were COVID restrictions in place. It led Tayeb to relive his time in confinement, and his mind also wandered to fears for his family. Praying became his way of escaping the uncertainty about his family's fate.

After praying one morning, Tayeb asked himself, "What am I doing? I need to do something with my life." He then thought back to the joy gardening gave him and decided to start a small project renovating the garden in his residence determination housing.

A Local Refugee Support Group heard about his venture and donated material for him as an encouragement to keep going. Tayeb also invested his own money. He was able to save some funds with the help of food donations and support he received from Life Without Barriers.

"This project changed my routines and gave me something to look forward to every day. It helped to take my mind off my worries and thinking about things I cannot control," said Tayeb.

"When I work with my hands, I can focus on my garden, and I have control over what it produces. It has truly saved my life.”

This attitude of focusing on the good he can do, and have control over, spreads to other areas in Tayeb's life. So much so that he has now become an invaluable source of support in his community. He shares his garden's produce with others, helps others with work, and supports elderly neighbours with their grocery shopping.

In March this year, Tayeb was granted a bridging visa allowing him to work in Australia after three years in community detention. He is very happy about this. At the same time, his fear remains because so much is still unknown.

With the support of his Life Without Barriers team, Blue Mountains Refugee Support Program volunteers, and the community he has become a part of, he is overcoming these difficult emotions.

Tayeb attained a driver's license and a tax file number with the support of Life Without Barriers. His support team also worked with him to find employment, and he was soon offered a full-time job as a labourer in a glass manufacturing company.

In just a week of training in his new role, Tayeb proved his capability and was promoted within the company.

The hardworking asylum seeker also offers gardening services on weekends and after work at the glass company. Tayeb's Life Without Barriers team connected him with Thrive Refugee Enterprise, who are assisting him in registering a landscaping business.

"It has been so satisfying to support Tayeb since he arrived in 2020 and to see him grow and work towards his goals," said Indira, Tayeb's Life Without Barriers NISS Case Coordinator.

"Tayeb is someone who has a positive attitude no matter the circumstances, and he is always thinking about how he can help others.”

Tayeb wishes to continue to support the community that has had a significant impact on his life. He decided to try to remain in the property he had been living in and save to take over its lease. The Department has approved and supported for this to happen because of all the good work that Tayeb has done, including his employment achievements.

Life Without Barriers is helping Tayeb with the process of making his current accommodation his home.

"Tayeb has developed a strong support network since arriving in Sydney, and this has helped him open doors to employment and private housing," said Indira.

A person's story is precious. We take storytelling seriously. Sometimes people are able to tell their own story, and we love that. We always make sure they give us their ok, and we will always honour the trust placed in us to bring their story forward.

*Names have been changed to protect the individuals in this story.

Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Life Without Barriers provides services through our National Immigration Support Service (NISS)

Related Stories