“I WAS NOTHING, I am nothing, and I will be nothing without the support of the wider community,” says Moshtagh Heidari, a 23-year-old refugee from Iran.
Moshtagh felt as though he had nothing to live for before he landed in Australia with his family in 2012, grateful to live in a land of opportunity here in Geelong. He looks at his situation as God’s given gift.
“I can remember the second that I stepped out of the plane. It was the second that I realised I belong to this society,” he said.
“There was such a strong feeling, an atmosphere at my shoulders and it was saying, ‘Moshtagh, you belong to this society, because this place defines you as a citizen. My presence back in Iran was worthless, I was nothing. Coming to Australia was the best moment of my life. I was very grateful; it was a very different feeling.”
Despite having grown up in Iran with a good education, due to the circumstances, Moshtagh would no longer be able to continue with his schooling.
“It was all about education. The second that my dad realised his kids were not allowed to go to high school, or get a higher education, I could remember the moment that he just sat down on the floor and said, ‘I cannot just sit and do nothing for my kids. I have to do something.’ That was when my dad decided to apply for a country to migrate to,” said Moshtagh.
The process from application, to receiving the visas to move to Australia, took six months.
“I think we were lucky, we’re lucky to be here,” said Moshtagh.
His family of 10 was struggling financially in Iran, with his father suffering from medical conditions rendering him unable to work. Moshtagh and his younger brother were forced to work for the whole family to survive.
Moshtagh has since made Australia his home, grateful to be given opportunities from education, to politics, and taking up keynote speaking to share his story and give back to all those who have helped him along the way.