Migrants, Kiwis 'must join forces'

For Maha Al-Fayyad moved to New Plymouth from Jordan.
For Maha Al-Fayyad moved to New Plymouth from Jordan.

For Maha Al-Fayyad, New Plymouth is slowly starting to feel like home.

The mother of three has been living in New Zealand for two years after migrating from Jordan with her husband and one of their sons.

But life is different, she told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday as Taranaki's ethnic communities celebrated International Migrants Day.

"I was a lawyer in Jordan, I had my own office and my own firm. Here I work as a grocery buyer for New World."

Mrs Al-Fayyad said she wasn't able to practise law in New Zealand without going through a lengthy and expensive process.

"The legal system is quite different but the skills are the same."

Instead she started her own immigration business, but a change to the law saw her give it up and start looking for a job.

"It was really hard. I would never get an interview because I have a different name and speak a different language."

Finally, she found a job with New World and is also studying towards a diploma of business.

"At some point maybe I will go back to being a businesswoman."

Yesterday she organised the Migrant Day lunch through Settlement Support at the Disability Information Centre because Getha Kutty, the usual organiser, was away.

She is in a good position to do so, not having any English when she moved to New Plymouth and now speaking it fluently.

"My advice is to ask questions and ask people to repeat themselves or talk slower."

She said the migrant day was for people who had recently immigrated to New Plymouth to get together.

"Often migrants understand other migrants better than they would a Kiwi and they can be very shy about making mistakes."

She said migrants and New Zealanders needed to work together to improve the country.

"If we want to make progress, we need to focus on the positive things. I always encourage people to look at the positive things. New Zealand is our country now too, and it is our responsibility to help make it a better place for everyone. That's what I believe; I'm just speaking from my heart."

Taranaki Daily News