Empowering former refugees to take their place in tertiary education
Bilal arrived in Aotearoa as a four year old asylum seeker after his family fled a civil war in Afghanistan. They embarked on a treacherous 3 month long journey, travelling from country-to-country, before finally arriving in Aotearoa in 1999 where he now calls home. Upon completing his schooling, Bilal went on to study a bachelor’s degree in Psychology which he used to inform his work as a behaviour therapist for children with autism spectrum disorder as well as his youth worker role with young people from refugee backgrounds.
Outside of his work, alongside a group of other young people, Bilal helped to establish Empower Youth Trust. Through peer-to-peer mentoring and regular skills workshops, Bilal and the team of other youth volunteers at Empower are seeking to address the under-representation of former refugees in tertiary education.
His passion and commitment to the youth sector saw him appointed to the Ministry of Youth Development’s Partnership Fund Board in 2018 where he is currently still serving. In the beginning of this year, Bilal returned to university to further his studies embarking on another journey to complete a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology which he hopes to utilise to serve the ever-growing mental health needs of young people in Aotearoa, especially those from refugee and migrant backgrounds.