Darwich Sido’s new shop in Jesmond is much more than a business opportunity. It’s the mending of a seam that runs between Mr Sido’s life in Newcastle and his former life in the city of Aleppo, Syria, from which his family were forced to flee in 2012.
Beginning his training as a tailor at the age of 10, and eventually going on to run his father’s alterations company, the course of Mr Sido’s future completely changed with the onset of the civil war.
Six years ago Mr Sido and his wife Zeinab boarded a bus with their three children bound for the border as what would become the most destructive confrontation of the Syrian conflict erupted in their home city.
“For my family it was not safe, [there were] planes, fighters and Daesh [ISIS] there. I am Kurdish. They have problems for me,” Mr Sido said.
“We only take our clothes and we went to Lebanon.”
The family’s sense of displacement deepened after arriving in Beirut as refugees. While they were allowed to live in the community, Mr Sido’s children were not permitted to attend school.
A phone call from friends in Syria confirmed their house in Aleppo had been hit by a missile.
“They call my dad and they said your house is all destroyed,” Mr Sido’s son Khalil said.
“If we were inside there we would be dead.”
Mr Sido looked to Australia for “a new life”. He and his family were resettled in Newcastle by the Australian government in 2016.
“The people are good here, the city is good, everything here is good,” Mr Sido said.
His children, Mohamad, 18, Khalil, 16, and Aysha, 10, now attend schools in Waratah and Jesmond.
Mr Sido worked at Rundles Tailoring on Hunter Street for over a year.
Just three weeks ago Mr Sido opened his own alterations business, Sido Tailor, at Jesmond shopping centre.
He was assisted by a partnership between Stockland and Thrive Refugee Enterprises, a not-for-profit organisation that provides business support to refugees.
Mr Sido’s consultant Reda Haddadeh, who works for The Business Centre in Newcastle, said Australians could look forward to a new wave of Syrian entrepreneurship.
“Syria used to be number one in terms of clothes manufacturing in the region. Italian and French brands used to be made in Syria. That is why a lot of Syrians have skills in textiles and alterations. It’s in their genes and blood,” Mr Haddadeh said.
Mr Sido said he was happy to use his skills in a city he “loves”.
“For me it’s good, and for my family it’s good if I have a business.
“I am the boss for my work.”