Doctors driving taxis, engineers on assembly lines, teachers doing data entry…
It’s not a strange phenomenon. There is even a very flattering term to describe it — “brain waste” — applied to immigrants who were skilled professionals in their home countries, but since resettling, are unable to find work commensurate with their education and experience.
Indeed, the hoard of well-documented research identifies several barriers to proper employment: the non-recognition of qualifications; poor English language proficiency; lack of networks and local work experience; and, not surprisingly, discrimination.
What makes it infinitely more challenging is being a refugee, or, worse still, an asylum seeker. How does one find a job (let alone restart a career) when deportation or detention are potential realities?
They may have once been victims of torture or persecution back home. Yet, in this country, they remain victims — falling prey to the toxic preconceptions held closely by a society they thought would welcome them; to punishing government policies; and to the polarising “us-and-them” rhetoric persistently pushed by the mainstream media.
All of them came here seeking asylum and seeking work.
And all of them, it seems, are still seeking hope.
‘The HopeSeekers‘ is a multimedia project produced, written, filmed, edited and published online by Min-Zhui Lee.