Khaled Al-Ibrahim left his homeland for New Zealand over three years ago in search of a better life for him and his family, and to join his other Kiwi family members. His journey here was very tough financially, mentally, and psychologically. He had to leave his wife and children in Thailand as they had to wait for their visas to be approved. Little did he know how long this wait would be and he even missed the birth of his daughter, who he still has not been able to hold. This was the biggest and most painful sacrifice Khaled has ever made. He also left his entire life savings for his family back home to make sure that they were secure. Because of this, Khaled arrived in New Zealand with very little and for his first year here, he had to live out of his car as he couldn’t even afford rent. Though he had a right to financial assistance, he said he felt a sense of shame in accepting help, often going into Work and Income only to change his mind and leaving at the last minute.
The situation finally took its toll on Khaled. He had no more money and urgently needed petrol and food. He realised he had no choice but to apply for financial assistance. So Khaled went into Work and Income. He felt very nervous and unsure as the branch was very busy and overwhelming. He was just about to leave again like he had done before when he was approached by a security guard. The security guard asked if he was okay and, according to Khaled, could tell that he was struggling and needed help. The security guard sat down with him, talked him through the whole process, and even set him up with an appointment. Khaled felt truly grateful for the support from the security guard that day, saying that helping him through the process at such a difficult time was crucial. So great was the effect on him, he prayed that one day he could be a Case Manager to help people in need in the same way they helped him.
Khaled had an impressive CV but he had never been through a job interview process before. All of his previous experience came from word-of-mouth or through self-employment. Even though he had been on the other side of the table before, it was still an all-new experience for him. Because of this, Khaled’s Case Manager advised him to join a course at Capital Training to help with employment skills and the interview process.
Khaled started the Contact Centre training course at Capital Training run by Jaxs and Barb. He described to me how important this step was in his journey, from meeting his other classmates with who he became quite close, to the environment of the centre and the supportive nature of the staff. But most important of all were the skills and techniques he learnt from the course.
On the first day of the course, he was asked what he needed assistance with. Khaled told them that he had never had a job interview before. The tutors got straight into helping him build the necessary skills to try and gain some interviews and hopefully land the right job. This training helped Khaled to identify the right jobs to apply for, construct his CV appropriately, and write a tailored cover letter. It also taught him about the New Zealand interviewing process, as it can differ throughout different parts of the world. As a result of this training, he was able to secure four job interviews in the space of four weeks.
However, luck just was not on his side as all four interviews were unsuccessful, with his last interview being interrupted halfway through by a fire drill. But if Khaled has one thing, it is a positive outlook on life. He kept trying to think positively, saying that those roles just were not the right ones for him.
As luck would have it, just a few days before the course ended, his dream role as a Work and Income Case Manager was advertised. He mentioned the Case Manager opportunity to Jaxs and Barb and asked if they would help him with his application and provide any extra advice. As Jaxs used to work as a Case Manager, she helped him through the process. For his cover letter, he decided to write from the heart. He wrote about how it was his dream job and how he wanted to offer the same support that he received - and he was able to secure an interview.
Khaled had the last interview slot of the day and when he walked in, he could feel how exhausted they all were. So, he tried his best to connect well with them, which he did by making them laugh, and even making them cry. He told them his story of how he came to New Zealand, his experience with Work and Income and the security guard, and how all of these aspects of his life would make him an ideal Case Manager. He conveyed to them that he not only had empathy and understanding but also resilience.
By this point, the Capital Training course had finished, but his association with Jaxs and Barb had not. They remained in regular contact, giving tips and updating him about new roles that came up.
Two months after his interview he got the call that he had landed his dream job. He was over the moon. “Now I can give back to the community,” he told me. “I want to help people at the lowest point of their lives and to be the helping hand that I received.” He told me he is always excited when he gets up in the morning and that he can’t wait to get to work; he loves every second of the job. Clients may come in angry or upset, but Khaled does the best he can to turn the situation around and finds the times he’s able to help someone leave with a smile particularly rewarding. He knows how to reach out to people and help them during their worst times because he understands their situation and knows what they are going through.