A voice for those that cannot speak, a helping hand for people in need and a compassionate sounding board for those in distress, Omar Osman is committed to making a difference in this world.
Born in Ethiopia, Omar immigrated to Australia over a decade ago, and has spent his time here working within the community to improve the lives of people around him. This year Omar decided to make his passion his career, and enrolled with Open Colleges in a Diploma of Community Services Work.
Here, he speaks to us about his journey, as well as his dreams for the future – both in Australia and Ethiopia.
“I want to change my community,” Omar said, explaining that he would like to facilitate this change from a grassroots perspective, working with people newly arrived in Australia from Africa, to welcome them, assist them to get work and to help them navigate day-to-day life in a new country.
“When they’re left in the community, [currently] there’s no good receiving, because of the language barrier and culture,” he said, adding that he wants to empower people with the knowledge they need, “not only to survive, but to thrive.”
“The number of immigrants is increasing so they need someone that has the knowledge about where they come from to engage them and get them into the society, to share with society their values and what they brought with them, their culture. So they need someone who would work for that integration.
“These communities need knowledge, encouragement, and empowerment,” he added.
A passionate campaigner for youth, Omar also hopes to work with troubled youngsters to help stop them from falling between the cracks, and to assist them in getting back on track by changing their life’s direction.
Getting a clear picture of the industry
Due to the nature of community service work; the number of departments, committees and stakeholders involved, Omar is excited that his Diploma covers the art of communication.
According to Omar, learning how to communicate effectively will not only help him deal with people on a day-to-day basis, but will also assist him when he is navigating government departments and speaking with various stakeholders.
“All of it is amazing when I read through the course materials,” he said.
Working towards a brighter future
A man who backs up his conviction with action, Omar is volunteering in his own time (outside of full-time work and his studies) at a school for children with disabilities.
The information that he is learning on his course, he said, is feeding into this work and is helping him to patiently and compassionately assist the children that he is working with.
“It’s helping me a lot. It’s giving me some guidance – how to listen to the children, how to treat them– and it’s helping me to give the kids a chance to express themselves,” he said.
Omar is also busy working with several NGOs to help refugees overseas. These organisations help to relocate refugees to Australia from countries including Kenya, Yemen and Tunisia, and assist them with building new lives.
Improving personal outlooks
A cleaner by trade, Omar is hoping that his new career will also help him to stabilise his income and give him some financial security on the home front.
“I have a small [cleaning] franchise,” he said.
“Sometimes I lose accounts, sometimes I get them. All the time I’m feeling that I might lose this account because it’s not a qualification that I’m holding. Cleaning. Everyone can do it. No one needs a cleaner, but I need them.
I hope [the qualification] will change the way my community looks at me. The way they value my knowledge will change,” he added.
Hope for the future
With a heart for Africa, Omar hopes to one day return to Ethiopia as an advocate for the people.
“I want to empower my people,” he said, adding, “I want to teach them their rights”.
“Africa: we’ve got everything, natural resources, everything. But what we lost is education. We don’t have that one because the government is not giving the chance to its own citizens to be educated, to be empowered, so they are powerless, they are voiceless. So my plan is to give them the power to heal. I’d like to advocate for those people,” he added.
“Empowering my people. Helping them be independent. Not relying on the Western aid. Use their own land, use their own resources and help themselves,” he added.
Omar hopes to use his qualification to link in with an aid agency, such as the Red Cross, when he returns to Africa, saying that with the support of a big charity he will be able to effect real change.
“The government over there value this organisation. This organisation is valued all over the world. So when you work with this kind of organisation, whatever you do will be valuable,” he said.