Bossley Park resident Milad Kado shares story of resilience

Sharing his journey: Milad Kado. Picture: Sally Tsoutas.
Sharing his journey: Milad Kado. Picture: Sally Tsoutas.

Bossley Park resident Milad Kado can remember the bus ride from Syria to Lebanon in 2013.

"We got the phone call from the Australian government that we had been accepted to come to Australia...it was the happiest moment in our lives but we were not safe yet," Mr Kado said.

"The airport in Syria was closed and surrounded by terrorists. Any plane that would take off, would be shot down. Our only option was to go to Lebanon by bus which was full of risk and very dangerous.

"We were met with men with guns telling us to stop. Thankfully, they didn't want to hurt us and they let us go and we got to Lebanon and then to Australia

"Stepping off the plane in Australia, I told my family, 'We should forget the past but we should learn from the past and move forward'. We should learn about the experiences we have been through and the resilience we built and move on."

Stepping off the plane in Australia, I told my family, 'We should forget the past but we should learn from the past and move forward'. We should learn about the experiences we have been through and the resilience we built and move on.

Milad Kado

Milad's story of resilience is something he wanted to share as part of a new project titled Tackling the Challenge: Talking Men's Health.

Western Sydney University researchers have partnered with South Western Sydney Local Health District for the online initiative which encourages south-west Sydney men to share stories of resilience to help support each other and their networks.

The stories - which include overcoming migration issues, unemployment, mental illness and discrimination challenges - are intended to inspire, support and encourage others to get involved in the project.

For Milad, he wanted to send a clear message with his story: to never give up and keep trying.

"If you keep trying, you can achieve what you want no matter what difficulties you face," he said.

The 23-year-olds story starts in Iraq. As an eight-year-old his No.1 dream was to be a doctor. That dream of becoming a doctor was disrupted by war and replaced with fear.

His family was persecuted for their Christian faith and had to leave Iraq or they will be killed. He described the situation as "horrifying and scary" as kidnappings and threats of violence became the norm.

As he puts it: "I saw things, no kids should see." They had no option but to go to Syria but after three years war started and they were back to square one. They couldn't go back to Iraq or they would be killed, so they stayed and waited until they got the call from Australia for a "better life and future."

Once in Australia, Milad had to overcome another challenge: learning English.

"I knew zero per cent English; only two words: love and like," he said.

"With support from Settlement Services International, I joined the Intensive English Centre at Miller Technology High School to learn English.

"With all my dreams, they motivate me to learn fast and to catch up with everything I missed. Within two week, I was able to write and speak which surprised my teachers. After three terms, I started at Bossley Park High School in Year 11 and graduated in 2016 as one of the top students in the school with the help of my teachers who gave up their lunch times to help me.

Milad with his family. Picture: Sally Tsoutas.

Milad with his family. Picture: Sally Tsoutas.

"Some stuff I had no idea I could do, but I've done it - I've survived."

Milad has just completed his medical science degree at Western Sydney University as he continues his dreams of becoming a doctor. A dream he has had from a young age stemming from his desire to help others.

He is also hoping his story helps others as part of the Tackling the Challenge: Talking Men's Health project which uses storytelling to explore the lived experiences of men. The project is part of an ongoing study led by South Western Sydney Local Health District to identify the factors and experiences influencing men's mental wellbeing in the area.

Chief investigator, Dr Neil Hall, from the University's School of Social Sciences and Men's Health Information and Resource Centre, said storytelling is at the "heart" of this project.

"We aim to help men share, connect and learn from each other, while raising awareness for men's mental health with the broader community," Dr Hall said.

"Men may have fewer opportunities to seek out support and can struggle to talk about their issues, including mental health. The project is providing insight into how men in the community adapt and grow, especially in times of personal crisis."

South Western Sydney Local Health District Mental Wellbeing Health Promotion Officer Brendan Bennett said they were collecting and sharing stories of resilience to encourage different ways to learn from each other.

"A project like this can help other men to realise it's okay to ask for help and discover that it's not just 'bricks and mortar' health services that help people through hard times," Mr Bennett said.

"The project will also identify issues that are impacting our community across our district and show how men seek help."