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From refugee to MP: Labour's Ibrahim Omer says he'll fight for low-paid workers in maiden speech

Labour MP Ibrahim Omer talked about his long hard journey to Parliament and how he will fight for low-paid workers in his maiden speech today.

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Omer came to New Zealand from Sudan as a refuge in 2008. Source: 1 NEWS

Omer came to New Zealand from Sudan as a refugee in 2008.

He fled from his native country of Eritrea to Sudan in a dangerous weeks-long trek.

“Nearly all my life in Eritrea there was a war, I remember the terror when the war raged in our city,” Omer told his new colleagues in Parliament.

“I would rather die trying, than die a slow death in Eritrea,” he said of his escape.

After arriving at a UN camp and being offered refugee status, five years later he made the trip to start a new life in New Zealand.

Omer arrived in Auckland in 2008 and then moved to Wellington.

“My life in New Zealand wasn’t easy at first,” he explained.

Omer had jobs as a security guard, a cleaner and a fruit picker. He worked 80 hours a week so he could afford to study.

Doing these jobs, he appreciated how hard he and his colleagues worked just to make enough money to survive in New Zealand.

This inspired him to become active in the union, his local community and the Labour Party as he advocated for a living wage.

After studying politics at university, Omer quickly rose up the Labour ranks and is now a sitting MP.

“My life has been transformed so quickly. Twelve years after arriving in New Zealand I became a member of this Parliament,” he said.

Omer vowed to fight for those still struggling on a living wage who work hard to realise their dreams.