June 5, 2024

Where dreams rise: a refugee family’s journey to success

When Rima and George fled war-torn Syria with their two young children, they carried little more than hope for a safer, better life. The journey to Australia was fraught with uncertainty, but their determination and resilience saw them through the toughest of times.

Early challenges

Arriving in Australia in 2017, Rima and George faced immediate challenges.

“Our sponsor, my sister-in-law, helped us to settle, but it was very difficult for us to start from zero to begin our new life,” said Rima. “The big struggle was the language because in Syria, we only studied the English language for just one hour in the week – we cannot speak English very well in our country. That was a big challenge for us.”

“And after that, when my husband first started looking for a job, it was very hard for him.”

“When he went to the job office, they told him: ‘look for a job’, and he tried but no one accepted him because he needed experience and language.”

Feeling at home

George eventually found work as a chef at a fish and chip restaurant, while Rima landed a job at Spectrum, joining as a part time Migration Assistant which eventually led to a full-time role as a Migration Liaison Officer. At Spectrum, Rima not only helped other refugees navigate their own settlement journeys, but also found a community and built lasting friendships. Rima said, “I like my job. I work at Spectrum because I feel at home. I like the teamwork, I like the flexibility when I work at home, and I like the opportunities for training and development. I have learned a lot, dealing with embassies and migration agents and the Immigration department. It’s been a big challenge and I have gained a lot of experience.”

A young woman on the telephone at the office

A new beginning

By this time, George was channelling his culinary skills at Al Rawsha, a local Middle-Eastern bakery. His dedication and talent quickly earned him the role of chef and manager, and for the past four years, he has poured his heart into the bakery, bringing a taste of Syria to the local community.

Now, Rima and George have embarked on an exciting new chapter. They recently purchased Al Rawsha Bakery and Rima has resigned from her job at Spectrum to help run it as a family business.

“It’s a new step,” said Rima. “I want to help my husband because he loves his job and I want to support him.”

Rima and George were excited to officially open their bakery on the first of June, with many friends and customers attending.

“We have a lot of friends come on this day and they told us everything was delicious, everything was perfect,” said Rima. “We are very happy for this feedback.”

The enterprising couple have plans to further decorate and develop the bakery and Rima will be kept busy helping with accounts and orders, serving customers, and managing the cash register.
She credits her experience at Spectrum as teaching her an important transferable skill which she will no doubt apply in her new role.

“The most important thing I have learned is the customer experience. When I talk to a client, how should I talk, what language should I speak. We should always be patient with the client.”

Though the bakery – alongside raising their children – has kept her very occupied, Rima still has time to reflect on the friends she made at Spectrum.

“What I will miss most is the staff – the team. I will miss everyone because all the staff are very kind, very supportive.”

A collage of three images: in the top left a bakery display shelf showing various pies and wraps; below, a photo of a Syrian couple standing outside a bakery, the name on the sign is Al Rawsha Bakery; and the photo on the right is a close up of the young Syrian couple inside their bakery

A journey of resilience and pride

Rima and George’s venture is a testament to their hard work and perseverance. Their journey from refugees to business owners is a powerful story of resilience. It highlights the strength and determination of refugees who, despite facing immense hardships, continue to build better lives for themselves and their families. It is also a reminder of the incredible contributions that migrants and refugees bring to Australia and to their local communities.

Spectrum is incredibly proud to have been part of Rima and George’s journey. While we are sad to see Rima leave our team, we are thrilled to see her, and her family, thrive. We at Spectrum will miss Rima’s presence but look forward to supporting many more families in their journeys to feel at home in Australia. We celebrate Rima and George’s success and wish them all the best in their new adventure as business owners.

Fortunately, our staff will have many opportunities to see Rima, as lunchtime regulars at Al Rawsha Bakery. George’s delicious pies, wraps and pizzas make perfect lunch (and breakfast) fare.

And my hot tip? Order the meat pizza and say yes to the lemon chilli sauce!

Al Rawsha Bakery
9/11-17 Pearcedale Parade
Broadmeadows 3047
Open Mon to Fri 6am-3pm; Sat 6am-1pm