July 2015, Flight to Sydney,
Driver Hasan – mid 30′, from Kenya, Muslim, married, 5 kids.
My drive to the airport was very interesting today. Hasan was born in Kenya. He has lived in Australia for the last 20 years. He came here for a family reunion when he was 16. Three weeks after the arrival, he was looking for a job which would not require a great deal of English. Luckily, He found one as a cleaner in a small restaurant and stayed there for 3 years. He met a girl, fell in love and got married when he was just 20 and his wife was only 17. According to him, she is not “hot” , but very intelligent, is a great person and they totally understand each other. It was not the kind of arranged marriage as we have come to know, but there was some “background check” done in Kenya before the wedding.
The driver and his wife have 5 kids – 4 boys and 1 girl. The first son is 17 now, studies in private school, almost as tall as his dad. Then there are two sets of twins – aged 12 and 6. His wife works part-time as a nurse at the Royal Children’s Hospital. They have a house basically paid off and a taxi business. Hasan believes that his life is very successful.
Some time ago he decided to go and work at the coal mines in Western Australia, but only for 3 years. There he was driving gigantic trucks full of ore. The work was very hard (4 weeks of 12 hour shifts and one week off) , the living conditions were horrible horrible (driving underground, heat, flies), but the pay was great. What I find amazing, is that he set himself 3 years and did exactly that – to the day.
I’ve heard so many horror stories where people get addicted to the money, buy huge houses, new cars, put kids into private schools and they can’t stop as they need more and more money to support this lifestyle. Meanwhile, the kids grow up without fathers, wives are getting lonely, families break down, houses sold for divorce settlements and there is nothing left. Life is over. My driver was well aware of this trap and pulled out when they had enough to buy a house.
After that, Hasan finished university and got a degree in biochemistry. The growing family required more money, so he quit his qualified job after 6 months because of the low pay. But he strongly believes in a good education and takes his kids through private schools.
Hasan had 10 siblings, but only 7 are alive today. All of them are educated and doing well for themselves. His two sisters are married and living in England, two brothers are in Canada, and one in U.S. According to Hasan, Kenyans are really family oriented people, they help and care about each other. In his family there is a rule, where at least one day a week (usually it’s a Sunday), they have a meal together. No excuses.
I really liked his reply to my question about how his wife dresses for work and in real life. Hasan said that she has a very good taste and dresses in western clothes, and just keeps a head scarf. This is her acknowledgement of Muslim faith. “We came to Australia to live a better life. We need to work hard, really hard to provide for the future for our kids. We do our best within reason to follow our religion, but we also work a lot. My kids do lots of sport and extra studies. I want to keep them busy, so they won’t get into trouble or cause any trouble for others. To live well we need to do our best”.
I could not agree with him more. For me, it was a very inspirational success story. I strongly believe that Hasan and his family will achieve everything they set out to.