Brisbane Lions will play its multicultural round match at The Gabba on Saturday afternoon in the lead up to Multicultural Queensland Month in August.
Before the Lions take on the Gold Coast Suns for Round 19, Multicultural Australia and the Club will host our annual citizenship ceremony in the Champions Room at The Gabba where 30 people will become Australian citizens. Following the ceremony, all new citizens will watch the players run out, sit back, relax and watch our nation’s great game – many for the first time.
The Yussuf family, originally from Somalia, is part of the 30 conferees from 14 different countries who will become new Australians. Seven members of the family are becoming citizens which is very exciting for the family as they strengthen their commitment to Australia – the country that they are proud to call home.
Sheikh Mohamed and six of his children, ranging in age from 12 years to 22 years, will be making the pledge on Saturday. Sheikh Mohamed came to Australia in September 2013.
Sheikh Mohamed fled Somalia after the collapse of the government in 1991. He escaped civil war to the neighbouring country Kenya where he lived in two different refugee camps (Utagne and Kakuma) before living in Nairobi. It was in Nairobi where he met his wife and got married and went on to have six children. Regarding his many years in refugee camps, he spoke of the harsh environment, with limited food and sickness. Sheikh Mohamed has suffered from a jaw deformity since the age of eight which has made life and eating difficult and has added to the hardship he endured.
Sheikh Mohamed’s settlement journey and experience lasted 22 years, which is difficult to truly comprehend, but with the help of the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the family finally got the opportunity to find safety and resettle in Australia.
Sheikh Mohamed came to Brisbane where he and his family have resided since their arrival in 2013. They have been supported on their settlement journey by Multicultural Australia. After an initial stay in temporary accommodation, the family moved into the suburbs of Brisbane. He and his wife now have another three children born in Australia.
When asked what it means to him to become an Australian citizen his emotions take over.
“It is a joy, but I can’t really talk about it. If I talk about it, I will have tears. Words cannot express.”
“The things the Australian government and nation did for me, only God can pay them back.”
“One million times my appreciation goes to the Australian nation and government.”
Sheikh Mohamed is a well-respected elder in the Somali community. His community knows they can turn to him for advice as a senior member. He makes visits to community members to check in on them and support them emotionally.
His children are busy with study and careers, including one being a mechanic, one in hospitality while studying engineering and his daughter studying nursing.
His dreams for his family in Australia are for them to contribute to the community and country as much as they can, buy a property and help the needy.
Multicultural Australia was introduced to the Yussuf family when they arrived in September 2013, arranging to meet them at the airport and settle them into accommodation, build connections in their communities, find work and study opportunities, learn new skills and feel at home.
Christine Castley, CEO of Multicultural Australia said, ‘The story of Sheikh Mohamed and his family represents some of the best successful settlement stories that we see in our work at Multicultural Australia. We are constantly amazed and impressed by the strength, resilience and desire to give back to the Australian community that we see in the community we serve.’
Sheikh Mohamed and his family will stay on after the citizenship ceremony to watch their first AFL match.
Multicultural Australia and the Brisbane Lions are passionate about creating an inclusive community for new Queenslanders from diverse cultures and backgrounds. This important and long-standing partnership consistently demonstrates how sport is a great connector for people and brings communities together – and Saturday’s Lions/Multicultural Australia collaboration is a great example of this.
AFL Queensland and Multicultural Australia are proud supporters of this event along with a range of committed partners including the Queensland Government.
Go the Lions!
For information about Multicultural Australia’s Connecting Through Sport programs click here