Ask Mustafa Niamafullak Nazar what he loves most about Australia and he will tell you it is “everything”.
He enjoys the Anglesea community, the people he has met, the 6am swims at Point Roadknight and even the big shifts at Fish by Moonlight, which he refers to as “long days in a labour of love”.
The bright young man may choose to find joy in the simpler things that come with a coastal lifestyle but his experiences were not always this way.
From war-torn Afghanistan to purchasing a home on Australian soil, the 21-year-old has lived a chaotic life, but through it all he remains grateful for each day.
On January 26, Mustafa and his family became proud Australian citizens almost a decade after fleeing their homeland.
“It was really exciting and a wonderful opportunity that I have been waiting nine years for,” he said.
“When I was at school and had a spare period, I would call them and ask what is happening with my application and they would tell me I just had to wait.
“I don’t know what the issue was or if they were too busy but is a big relief now.”
Today Mustafa is a qualified chef, high school graduate and homeowner but his past tells a more harrowing story.
At 10 years old, Mustafa’s father was killed by the Taliban and, after being told he was next, the family was forced to flee for their lives.
From narrowly escaping further tragedy, Mustafa worked in a mine in Pakistan until he and his family were granted a humanitarian visa almost three years later.
Despite not knowing anything about Australia, the family soon found themselves in Geelong where Mustafa received an education at North Geelong Secondary that led to a chance encounter with Anglesea Football Club president Jamie MacKenzie.
Jamie, who worked across the road at the CFA, brought Mustafa to the Anglesea Football Club offering him transport and accommodation which he continues to do to this day.
Through Jamie’s generosity, Mustafa was able to experience a strong sense of community that led him to his position at Fish by Moonlight.
“Jamie has helped me in many ways, providing me with a job and the opportunity to have a trade on my hands,” he said.
With hard work Mustafa was able to purchase a family home in Corio at the age of 21.
Despite arriving unable to speak a word of English, Mustafa said life in Australia gave him a number of opportunities that he would not of otherwise had.
“I had many choices coming to Australia, he said. “I had a choice to go to school, study and work instead of just supporting my family the whole way.”
Mustafa graduated high school in 2019, was able to complete his apprenticeship last month and continues to support his family.
Coming from landlocked Afghanistan to the coastal community of Anglesea, Mustafa loves spending his time either swimming before work or riding his motorcycle along the Great Ocean Road.
Mustafa believes his positive outlook on life comes from the people he now surrounds himself with.
“I have been surrounded in Anglesea with such wonderful people and I have picked up their habits too,” he said.
Having left the violence of the past behind him, Mustafa now looks excitedly toward his future, working and watching his two younger siblings complete their secondary education.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift – that is why it is called the present,” he said.