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Ex-refugee & Canberra University student now a leader, entrepreneur & ready for TEDx in Bega

Lisa Herbert 14 May 2019
Hedayat Osyan – from a poor rural town, to one of the world's most developed & expensive. Photo supplied.

Hedayat Osyan – from a poor rural town to one of the world’s most developed & expensive cities. Photo: supplied.

One of the inspiring speakers at this year’s TEDx Sydney will be ex-refugee Hedayat Osyan, who says he acts according to the needs of those around him, a true local leader.

At seventeen, an age when most Australian kids are wrestling with about school exams, Hedayat found himself fleeing his home in Ghazni, Afghanistan, overcoming incredible odds to arrive in Australia on and old boat in 2009, after a year of tumultuous journey.

By 2016 Hedayat was studying at Canberra University and working at a construction company during the holidays. Hedayat is of the Hazaras ethnic group, people that have been victims of persecution and discrimination for centuries. Many are not allowed to attend school or university and are forced into the construction industry by lack of choices. Once in Australia many refugees also seek work back in the industry.

While working in his holiday job, many of his co-workers turned to Hedayat with questions and pleas for assistance.

Hedayat says, “they were being exploited by their employers, by their colleagues, and by their site managers because they cannot speak English.”

As well as language barriers, new refugees face a range of challenges in the early years of settlement especially education and gaining work experience. However, statistics show that refugees are more entrepreneurial than other Australians, a fact that played out in Hedayat’s response to his community’s issues.

Social Enterprise Nick Tiling empowers refugees with training and employment. Photo: Facebook

Social Enterprise Nick Tiling empowers refugees with training and employment. Photo: Facebook

“Many colleagues were asking for my help saying ‘you are one of us, can you help us?” he says.

So Hedayat decided to postpone his studies and start the social enterprise.

Nick Tiling Services empowers refugees with skills and employment, key ingredients to enable someone to re-establish their life.

The business started with two refugee tilers and now employs upwards of fifteen.

“I try to teach them English, provide support and daily mentoring and advice. When they get a letter from some sort of organisation or the government, I help them. They are a lot more confident now, especially now that they can speak some English.”

From Hedayat’s lived experience he knows the support that is required, and he believes mentorship is key. He understands the huge adjustment to be faced, having come from a poor and undeveloped rural town in the countryside of Afghanistan to one of the most developed and expensive cities in the world.

YGap 2018 Next Gen – creating local leaders. Photo Facebook

YGap 2018 Next Gens intake including Hedayat Osyan – creating local leaders. Photo Facebook

Hedayat was accepted into the 2018 YGap First Gens accelerator program, which is designed for entrepreneurs around the world who are creating impact in their migrant or underprivileged communities.

On May 24, Hedayat brings this perspective and wisdom to the TEDx Sydney, which is being streamed live to the Bega Civic Centre.

“I’ll share my experience as an ex-refugee and my journey to Australia. I’ll touch on why I fled my country because of discrimination and genocide and how heartbreaking it is to leave your family in a warzone,” he says.

“And I’ll share my horrifying story of the dangerous boat journey to Australia.

“It was the most risky and dangerous thing I ever done in my life. It was absolutely horrifying to travel in an old fishing boat along with other forty-five fellow refugees to Australia.

Hedayat Osyan pitches his TEDX talk at the Sydney Opera House. Photo Facebook.

Hedayat Osyan pitches his TEDX talk at the Sydney Opera House. Photo Facebook.

“Canberra is a beautiful, peaceful, quiet and friendly environment. I was shocked and traumatised from the journey and detention centre experience, but after I moved to Canberra everything went well.

“I’m always trying very hard to give something back to the Australian people. This is my responsibility because they saved my life.”

Come and share in Hedayat’s amazing story – an Australian story. About Regional and the Bega Civic Centre presents the TEDx Sydney Satellite Event on Friday, May 24. The live stream runs from 9 am to 6 pm, tickets are $20 which includes and solid morning and afternoon tea, funds raised go towards the Festival of Open Minds in Bega on September 13 and 14.

For more information and tickets check HERE.

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