“I feel like we’re seeing a movie, like in a dream or something like that. With all the nature, everything is green here,” says Amannuel smiling. It has been a few weeks since he arrived in Aotearoa from Ethiopia, after an 11-year wait as a refugee.

Like many others, he and his mother left their native Eritrea. Thanks to the efforts of a lawyer, they were able to arrive in Wellington, where they have begun to experience their new reality and plan to build a future.

Their first month was spent at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion, where they stayed and received support while Refugee Family Reunification Trust and Red Cross arranged a permanent home for them.

“We’re feeling really happy. We’re feeling safe here, we are feeling at home. All the hospitality that we are receiving, all the kindness.”

While the Eritrean community has been there to help them, the most important thing is a place to live, he says. “Without a home I don’t think we’d be able to achieve our future ideas or goals. I think having a place to live is the foundation. From there, I can get a job and accomplish our dreams.”

For Amannuel, a secondary school teacher, those dreams are clear. He plans to continue studying and furthering his education, although in a different field. “I like health sciences. I would like to study medicine, that’s my dream. If I get the opportunity, why not?”, he says with conviction.

However, he is aware that things will come slowly. He acknowledges that he must first learn the basics, from how to get around to how to find a job to support himself, as well as worrying about his mother, who must learn to communicate in English.

Amannuel remains surprised by the graciousness shown by those who helped them, which builds hope for what lies ahead.

“We always had hope, always. That was the thing that pushed us to be here. That was our fuel, and we are here now. We still have hope.”