Iraqi Refugee Tries To Pay Back Welfare After Becoming Success

An Iraqi refugee says he tried to give the government the welfare money he was given now that he’s a business success. The man says that he no longer needs the welfare money he was given and wants to return it.

The man, Sam Eisho, says he walked into a local welfare office. Holding a check for $18,000 (about $16,600 in US dollars), Eisho got in line. Told he was in the wrong line by a confused teller, he tried to explain that he wanted to give the welfare money back to the Australian government, Business Insider reports.

Saying that the check was worth the amount of welfare he was given between 1999 and 2001, the Iraqi refugee said it gave him the help he needed to build his successful business. Despite this, his check was returned with a suggestion that he donate the money.

Today Sam Eisho is the Managing Director for SR Construction, a firm that directly employs 40 people with several offices in Sydney. His business also hires more than 100 sub-contractors. In 2009, as business boomed, he realized he no longer needed the welfare he’d been given and wanted to return it.

It was a long road though. Eisho tells Business Insider that on his way to visit family, he was nearly killed by guards at a checkpoint in his home region of Kurdistan in the 90s. Guards told Eisho that, if he wanted to get through the checkpoint, he would have to give them cash.

Outraged, Eisho took out the money, crumpled them up, then threw them at the guards’ feet. This was not taken well. Eisho was hauled away and put in a cell. There, he was kept until a guard who knew him pleaded with the others to let Eisho go.

The Iraqi man says he was certain that if it were not for this good luck, he would have been killed by the guards. Realizing this made Eisho decide to leave Iraq.

In 1999, he arrived in Australia, with his wife, where Eisho had an uncle who sponsored his citizenship. After taking courses in construction and building a business on the welfare money he received, Eisho became a successful businessman.

Though bureaucracy prevents the Iraqi refugee from paying the welfare back as he wanted, Eisho has asked that the money be put toward schools and hospitals.

[Image via Business Insider / Ben Collins]