Maxeem Georges was a successful accountant living in Syria when life changed.
"I graduated from Aleppo University as an accountant, rising in the ranks to become a Chief Accountant with a media company in Homs. I was leading a quiet life, but then the Syrian civil war began," said Maxeem.
"My office was down town where lots of fighting occurred. I remember one day being at work and the fighting was literally outside the building. I was so scared. I managed to escape and get home while many of my colleagues were stuck in the building for hours waiting for a safe moment to leave".
"My wife and I were married during the war and we stayed living in our home for a year, but it was too unsafe and we were forced to move back to my village Al-Mozayana with my parents. We lost everything due to the war, our home and all our possessions."
"Work was hard to get in Al-Mozayana and for four months I was not working. I started to make a small living selling medical supplements. In order to make enough money to live comfortably I was required to travel around, this was not possible when fighting was occurring just 4km from our home".
Maxeem and his wife Christina welcomed a baby boy in 2013 and shortly after fled Syria for safety in Lebanon.
"We moved to Lebanon hoping we would be able to find our way and start a new life. We didn’t feel settled there, we knew it would not be home," said Maxeem.
Maxeem had been living in Lebanon for a year and 10 months when he and his family were granted visas to come to Australia through the Humanitarian Programme.
"The day we received the news our visas had been granted we were very very happy. We knew Australia would provide us opportunities and a place to call home," said Maxeem.
"We arrived in Sydney in 2015. It felt amazing to be in Australia, we went from feeling dead to feeling alive".
Once arriving in Australia Maxeem was keen to settle into working and studying.
"My greatest memory of resettling in Australia came nearly as soon as we landed. Three days after arriving I went to Liverpool TAFE to enquire about studying English. A TAFE staff member advised me there would be a test and with no study I completed it on the spot. A couple of days later I received the call that I had passed the test and could enrol in a English for Academic Purposes course. I was really happy," said Maxeem.
After completing his English studies Maxeem won a role with Allianz Insurance through an innovative partnership between Allianz Australia and Settlement Services International (SSI). This partnership provides career opportunities and support for refugees and migrants who have settled in Australia. Maxeem is also now studying for his Masters of Finance.
"Once completing my Masters of Finance my next dream may be to complete my PhD. I don’t have dreams for a big beautiful house because I know you can lose these things in one moment as I did in Syria. Material goods aren’t important to me, what is, is working in finance an area that I love and earning money to support my family and live our lives," said Maxeem.
"Arriving in Australia I received support from many people, including those at Liverpool TAFE, Settlement Services International and Allianz Insurance. I’d like to now give back to others. Australia is a land of great opportunity. I have been encouraging other newly settled Syrian refugees living in my area to get out there engage and integrate into the Australian culture. There is so much to be hopeful for here in Australia".
Read other refugee stories.