A NSW Central West father has reunited with his wife and daughter for the first time in almost two years.
Shafeeq Hali came to Australia to find a job and home for his family back in August of 2019, leaving behind his one-year-old daughter and wife.
But what was supposed to be a temporary situation quickly elongated when COVID-19 struck.
"I took my family back to India in August of 2019, then in October 2019 I came to Dubbo to find a job and a house," he said.
"At the time, we were having financial difficulties which delayed them getting here.
"Finally, I booked a ticket in March of 2020 for them to come to Australia but the borders closed due to the pandemic.
"Initially we thought it wouldn't be that long, maybe a couple of months, and then things evolved and it became a nightmare for our family.
When I left my daughter, she was just one year old, now she is almost three.
"We had to apply for a travel exemption. I'm the main applicant as I worked here, but my family were not a primary applicant.
"I applied six times for a travel extension on compassionate grounds, but it was denied because I wasn't an essential worker at that time.
"My wife then applied six times but unfortunately, they were rejected as well.
"I finished my work contract after one and a half year's last April and I got another job and they helped me a lot to apply and offer support."
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Mr Hali now works at Alford Hydraulics in Dubbo as CNC Machinist, a position that ultimately enabled his family to receive the green light from the government to fly to Australia.
"[My employer] was able to apply for me and we got accepted," Mr Hali said.
"On September 9, my wife and daughter were flown to Brisbane where they went into quarantine for 14 days. On September 23 they were finally flown to Dubbo and I got to see them after exactly one year and 11 months.
"When I left my daughter, she was just one year old, now she is almost three.
"Thank god she is here, it is her third birthday coming up and we are going to celebrate it together."
Mr Hali said he wants to share his story to give hope to the thousands of other families he knows that are facing the same challenges.
"There are hundreds of people still stuck in India, father's waiting to see their kids again. I want them to know that one day, it will be all worth it in the end," he said.
"My wife and I dreamt of that moment we would reunite.
"We couldn't wait to be able to spend time together, to be able to hug each other, it kept us going every day, so to finally have that was a dream come true. We melted at the Dubbo Airport.
"But, It was worth all of the hardship, because here in Australia, in Dubbo, we will be able to provide good education to our kids. That's the most important part. As a father, I want to see my kids get a good education and be happy and Dubbo is a good place. I spoke to my friends and they said Dubbo has very good schools and very good teachers, so my daughter gets to grow up in a very good environment."
Mr Hali said Dubbo already feels like home to his family who has been warmly welcomed.
"My neighbours knew I was living alone, one of the lady's opposite us, she's 83, when she saw us moving our things is she brought over a bouquet and a letter that said welcome to Australia," Mr Hali said.
"When I told my company and friends that my family were here, they also brought us a souvenir and a letter that said our lives start in Australia. The community here is so wonderful and I just want to call it home."