Raed’s story | Annual report 2015-16
Ask Raed Shitw about his family and his face lights up with a beaming smile.
Raed arrived in Brisbane in May 2016 with his wife Najlaa and five children, Abaq (18), Anas (16), Abir (13), Adam (11), and Asl (4).
The Shitw family were forced to flee the Christian town of Qaraqosh in Iraq’s Nineveh province then spent 18 months in Jordan before coming to Australia through the Humanitarian Settlement Services program.
Now living in Bracken Ridge on Brisbane’s northside, Raed fills with pride when talking about his children exceling at school.
“We are all very happy here, this is our new life,” he said.
“It was very difficult in Jordan because generally speaking, the Iraqi people there aren’t allowed to study or work.
My children couldn’t get formal schooling for almost two years, but they did some education through the church school.”
Back in Qaraqosh, Raed was heavily involved in local businesses and schools as an investor and entrepreneur. He established the St Joseph’s Primary School and Al Basil Secondary School in 2013, where more than 700 students were enrolled each year, and also served as chairman on the board of directors.
Raed’s passion for education has been passed down to his 16-year-old son Anas.
“He wants to study either physics or history,” Raed said.
“It’s interesting because they are two very different subjects, but his goal is to become a university lecturer.”
Raed also owned a gas factory, two poultry farms and a brick factory in Qaraqosh – employing 120 people across the businesses. He’s now enjoying his new life at a slightly slower pace.
Along with Najlaa and eldest daughter Abaq, Raed attends TAFE for English classes and eventually wants to start a small business with friends who live nearby.
“Maybe a fruit shop, right here in Bracken Ridge,” he said.
He already has his Queensland driver’s licence and the family spends their weekends at St Joseph’s Catholic Church attending services, meeting other community members and practising their English.
“Brisbane is very nice. We didn’t choose Brisbane, but we love the environment here especially on the northside,” he said.
“Every night I like to walk down at Sandgate to watch the beautiful, peaceful sunset.”
Raed’s story was a highlight of MDA’s 2015-16 annual report, which was launched in December 2015. Read the report in full here.