My childhood was filled with the sound of gunfire and haunted by stories of friends, neighbours and loved ones abducted, missing or killed. The scars of a childhood like that are the kind that never fade.
I was born in 1985, during Sudan’s second civil war. That conflict took my mum’s life when I was six, and my dad’s when I was nine. I spent eight years growing up alone in a refugee camp in Uganda.
Today, I work with Red Cross in Australia, leading a Queensland-based team of staff and volunteers supporting people seeking safety in the country that gave me a home when I was 16.
Like me, many of my Red Cross colleagues have lived through the same kind of experiences as the people we support. And we let them know: “I am with you on this journey. I hear you. I understand your issues. You are not alone.”
Some days, people come straight to our door from the airport seeking help. They have children and running from violence. They don't speak English and have faced hardships no one should endure. Their first thought is to find Red Cross, where there’s an emblem they trust and humanitarians they know will help without question.
We provide emergency funds for the basics of survival - food and a place to sleep. We show people how to navigate a new country, enrol their children in school, and find a job and a community. We introduce them to organisations for access to long-term housing, healthcare, and visas. While behind the scenes, we work to change systems that disadvantage them.
Across Australia, we supported more than 47,000 people from 165 countries last financial year. Among them are refugees, families seeking asylum, and people on temporary visas or without visas. Many people we help are not eligible for mainstream support, and they’re struggling to survive. They have nowhere else to turn. We are their last resort.