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Home 10,000kms from home

“My parents believe I am in a place where I am being loved, they can see this on my face that I’m taken care of and given a sense of home and a feeling of having my own community.”

Sarmad Habib was building a career in Brisbane when a friend called to ask if he’d be interested in working far out, just for a short time.

He agreed to come for one year, four years later he is still working in the central west and is no longer planning an exit strategy.

Sarmad, a dedicated Muslim, felt completely at home once he worked out his grocery shop, he now gets a call from the local butcher when halal meat is in stock.

“It’s amazing, because coming from a different country and staying in a big city, you find yourself left out.

“So when you come out in a small community and they accept you and they make you feel like you’re accepted here and loved, and then you try to develop and make friends. It’s been an amazing journey,”  he said.

The Pakistani has achieved what he describes as peaceful progress in his career.

“I work hard at work. I do the same amount as I would in the city but I have more time to enjoy my life after work” he said.

He has joined the local basketball, tennis and cricket teams and has the opportunity to travel the region for fixtures, is involved in the community and has a solid social life after hours.

During his time far out his career has progressed from working for a larger accounting firm for a number of years to now now being the finance officer with the Barcaldine Regional Council.

“There are opportunities out here, I learn more and do more independently, rather than being in a bigger office and only doing one section or one form of accounting,” he explains.

There were difficulties when he first arrived, there is no mosque, halal food was a novelty and some in the community didn’t understand his dietary needs.

“But with time people helped me out and even the butchers know what I can have. Now even the restaurants know and everyone knows what I can eat, which is quite amazing. I couldn’t even expect that staying anywhere. So it’s very nice,” he explains.

He believes  moving to central-western Queensland has helped him develop a much deeper connection with Australian culture while remaining true to his ethnic background and faith.

“In cities, you might be compacted into groups of your own people which might not give you the proper exposure of being out in Australia.

He thinks country Queensland may not have been right for him when he was younger but has no doubts it’s the best place for him now.

“It’s been easier here than in Brisbane. Being a first-generation immigrant, I’ll always miss Pakistan. My family back home especially my parents believe I am in a place where I am being loved, they can see this on my face that I’m being taken care of and given a sense of home and a feeling of having my own community.

“So it’s been very, very, very nice rather than, when I was in Brisbane I was always working and had been struggling to get to where I wanted to,  as a result  it becomes very hard to pursue your goals,” he explained.

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