Dentist finds his destiny in Wollongong

AUSTRALIA DAY 2014 - Celebrating Citizenship

In 2008, he left his six brothers, mother, father and the instability of his homeland Peshawar in Pakistan to pursue a PhD in dentistry at the University of Sydney.

At the time, Dr Mafaz Ullah had a choice between studying in London or Sydney - he chose Australia because he liked our cricket team.

On Australia Day Dr Ullah became an Australian citizen alongside 60 others at Wollongong's citizenship ceremony in Town Hall.

Although he missed his family, Dr Ullah said the lifestyle in Australia was safer and presented him with a variety of study and work opportunities not afforded to him in Pakistan.

'The accent was different, in Pakistan it's mostly an English accent. But people helped me and I gained confidence.'

"Pakistan was very good before the September 11 attacks [in the US], but sooner after, because of the war in Afghanistan, there were lots of bomb blastings," he said.

"[It's] because we live near the border and Pakistan joined America in an alliance.

"The Taliban were targeting the government people and there was collateral damage."

When he left, Dr Ullah had already completed his undergraduate studies but was looking for more academic qualifications.

"The career opportunities are really high in Australia," he said.

"If someone is hard working, they get their destiny.

"When I came here at first, it was really hard for me to communicate.

"The accent was different, in Pakistan it's mostly an English accent.

"But people helped me and I gained confidence."

Since arriving in Australia a little over five years ago, Dr Ullah has become a registered dentist, taught students at Westmead Hospital and Sydney University, worked in Wollongong and joined the Aboriginal Health Services, working in Coonamble, north of Dubbo.

"I moved from Wollongong in November," he said.

"I wanted to enjoy the country side, I want to explore different things."

The dentist now eagerly waits for his wife of three years to join him as an Australian citizen in about one-and-a-half years.

Our newest Aussies

• This Australia Day a record 17,863 people received citizenship in ceremonies across the country.

• NSW received more than 3500 new citizens from over 100 countries.

• In the Illawarra, 87 people pledged citizenship in Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama council ceremonies. 

 • Sunday also marked 65 years of Australian citizenship, when the citizenship status was created by the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, which came into force on January 26, 1949.

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