Everyone who frequents the Victor Central Shopping Centre knows of the seven-foot tall trolley man. You can’t miss him in his iridescent lime green shirt and Aussie tourism cap.
We assume there are those who believe he’s lucky to have this job, as menial or humbling as it seems simply because he is a refugee.
Adil Aziz, who fled Wad Madani in the heart of Sudan fearing for his life because he dared to try and make his home a better place for his people, also believes he is lucky to have the trolly job – despite having gained his Masters Degree in International Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.
Yet, not for one moment does this father of three resent having done this job for FAB Shopping Centre Services in Victor Harbor for the past five years because he is educated.
Most of all, Adil, 40, who spent some time as a youngster in the United Arab Emirates where his well-educated father worked in construction and grew up to become president of the student union in Sudan during its horrific second civil war from 1983-2005 that claimed two million civilians, is a proud Australian.
Adil arrived in Sydney in 2001, in 2004 became naturalised, and after completing a handful of TAFE courses gained his Masters in 2006. He isn’t bitter about not having a higher profile or better-paid job than a trolley man because he sees the value of an education differently than most.
“In life, it is not about what you do for a job that really matters,” Adil said. “Education is what is important because it gives you a very different view of how to deal with your life.
“It’s not about the certificate when you graduate, or the salary they give you in your job. That is a very narrow part of what education can be. Education can be beneficial for our entire existence because it can build your family, your nation and awareness; it can change how you deal with things.
“Education can help you break the barriers between your existence and others in society. That makes you feel you belong, makes you confident and you don’t feel uncertainty about life.
“What you learn is power. Every book you read, every magazine you read gives you skills to translate that into positive power so you can integrate and be part of our community.”
Adil said before coming to Australia he was an activist in exile in Egypt.
“Yes, I feared for my life,” Adil said. “We – as part of a group of Sudanese people – came out here to seek a better future… if you had a family, and you wanted to be a lucky person, then you needed to go to Australia.
“The first thing for me was learning to understand the cultural differences and how I could integrate step-by-step into the mainstream culture of Australia. It takes time, yes, but I believe if we keep our education as part of supportive skills then we have a better chance of facing life difficulties.
“I started to understand that we, as new arrivals to Australia, needed to be involved with the community here. We needed to rebuild again our very existence here.
“I had family issues so I went back to Africa in 2008 for one year, and when I came back I decided to have a relaxing, beautiful new start to life. I decided to come to South Australia to look for a job and I got one here five years ago.
“It does not bother me that I have a masters degree and I push trollies.
To some extent, there is frustration with categories of who is the true boy within me really is. There is a stereo type about a humble sort of job in our culture, and for newcomers to Australia who need to establish a life this is a job to survive. It is not a future thing.
“Some people get to a corner and realise they have no other option; they say I have to do this.
“There are challenges. To some extent you try to make a distance to what you feel and the frustration, tiredness and exhaustion when you are doing this physical job. You keep your personality very welcoming because you are doing business.
“People are very friendly to me; they really are. I believe I am very lucky to be in this part of Australia. The majority of the people here are retirees, and they have had a very good life experience. They are interesting people.
“We live in a small town; it is not crowded or polluted. In the big cities there is competition between human beings and no one has time to smile at you or say hello.
“The way the people treat you makes you try to do your best because they are very kind.
“I believe the service here is totally different to any other part of Australia. If you are driving a taxi, or you do a cleaning job or you collect the rubbish you have to have multiple skills. You have to have aged care awareness, at least a degree of how to deal with community issues, and awareness about the regional Australian culture.”
When asked if there was a job out there that he would prefer, Adil said anything relating to helping the community and serving the people.
He still regards becoming a naturalised Australian as one of the greatest moments of his life.
“As a human, with the globalised things in life, there is a conflict of identities, and you need to ensure that you belong to somewhere,” Adil said. “Naturalisation reassures you that you exist.
“I love my job. I know, it is not the ideal job for most people, but I am working which helps me to integrate and be part of the Australian culture. Working helps me be what I am – a proud Australian.”
If you see Adil in the shopping centre, say ‘hello’ to him. He’s a great bloke.