Centre touchstone for migrants

Mohammad Ferozi stepped off the plane in New Zealand last year wondering what his new life would bring him.

The 25-year-old was one of a group of former Afghan interpreters resettled in Hamilton after serving alongside the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan.

A year later, he and three others have found a niche in Work and Income’s Hamilton contact centre.

For Ferozi, it has provided him with more than a job.

“First when we got off the plane here in New Zealand I had no idea. I was thinking ‘What would I be doing?’ . . . I’m a single person so I don’t have family support here. The most important thing is our management team and staff members, they have been like a family to me. So I never felt alone,” he said.

“They didn’t let us feel like it is going to be tough for us.”

There was a lot to learn when he started in August last year – systems, accents, Kiwi slang – but he has found his groove.

And the organised social activities meant he’s tried his hand at bowling, volleyball, soccer and even waka ama.

It was a “great time”, Ferozi said, and he’s looking forward to next year.

Colleagues took fellow interpreter Abbas Bagheri on a road trip to the Auckland Nines – dressed as a Mexican – for his first experience of live rugby.

The first taste of work in New Zealand has had its benefits for each of the interpreters as they settle in.

For Sher Ali, the wide range of people dealt with in the contact centre gives him extra insight into the Kiwi way of life.

“You will have interactions with every kind of people, from different places, different backgrounds, with different ideas . . . I can understand a lot of things about people that I couldn’t do anywhere else.”

Fayaz Waseel is happy to be able to support his wife and family, improve his English and work in a friendly team.

“We’re not feeling alone in here.”

And the contact centre is equally pleased to have the four interpreters.

They came “ready made” with the skills an effective customer service representative needs, contact centre service manager Nephi Baucke said.

“They also bring fun, enthusiasm, high levels of commitment. They’re so dedicated to the roles that they have been given. Always here, always on time, always cheerful. Nothing’s too hard.”

Contact centre trainer Jackie Jerry advised any company thinking of hiring migrants like the interpreters to “give them a go”.

Ministry of Social Development’s Waikato regional commissioner Te Rehia Papesch praised their work in what could be a difficult line of work.

“Contact centre environment, it’s a pretty tough environment. You can’t sort of say ‘Oh, I think I’ll go and get me a glass of water.’ . . . You’re on the phone all the time,” she said.

But it’s not just the work the men have taken to – it’s also their new city.

“We feel Hamilton is like a home for us.

The four interpreters wanted to thank the New Zealand Government, the Red Cross and volunteers who helped them resettle, the Work and Income contact centre team, and the people of Waikato.

Source: Stuff News

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