May 11, 2020, 14:00 PM

Husamuddin Baha will never forget his first three months in Australia.

When he arrived in late January, the ‘lucky country’ welcomed the 28-year-old engineering graduate with open arms. Within three weeks, he had a job with a multinational electronics company, a room in a share house, and his first Australian friends. Then his worst enemy arrived.

“When COVID came, we were all stood down from our company in a few days, and I didn’t know how I would pay my rent,” Husamuddin admits. “It was a real stress.”

So when he saw the Working for Victoria initiative on the evening news, Husam – as his friends call him – jumped at the chance.

Within days, the chatty Afghani technician was making new friends – this time on one of Citywide’s cleaning teams on the streets of Footscray.

“I was so happy,” he says. “I could pay my bills and keep my room… it was such a relief!

“I actually like this work – it’s hard work, but it’s outdoors, with really good people, and doing something good for the community.

“We get so many positive comments and thumbs-ups from people we meet in the street – it makes me very happy.”

Although he’s been on an emotional rollercoaster ride, Husam is upbeat about his future in Australia.

“I love it in Australia,” he says. “Of course, I wish this crisis was not happening. But I know it will be over soon – and we can all go back to normal life.

“I feel all the good of Australian life in this team. We have a really good spirit. I’m making new friends. And my company says I’ll get my old job back when this is over – so I know everything will be OK.”

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