My childhood was filled with the sound of gunfire, and bombs dropped from planes roaring across the sky. It was haunted by stories of neighbours, friends, and loved ones abducted, missing or killed. It was a fight to survive among horrors a child should never know.
I was born in 1985 in a country now known as South Sudan, during a decades-long civil war for independence. That conflict took my mum when I was six and my dad when I was nine. I spent eight years alone in a refugee camp in Uganda.
Day after day, the headlines shout of another conflict, disaster, or humanitarian crisis. But behind the commentary are the stories you don’t much see. They are the stories of what becomes of those caught in the middle.
I am one of those people. And today, I’m in charge of a team of Red Cross helpers who support those looking for safety in Australia, the country that gave me a home when I was 16.
Thanks to generous supporters like you, every day, we help people who have nowhere else to turn.
We support people seeking asylum, refugees, and those on temporary visas or without visas. Most people who come to us don’t have access to government safety nets, mainstream assistance, or other support.
Some arrive at our door straight from airport with their children, running from violence. Some 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 to help them with the very basics of survival, like food and a roof over their head. We help them to navigate a new country, enrol their children in school, search for a job and build community connections. And we link them with agencies to find long-term housing, healthcare, and visa and legal support.
While behind the scenes, we work to change the systems and policies that disadvantage them.
Every day, we offer our hope, support, and strength. As we listen and let people know:
I belong to a generation born into war, we did not know safety nor stability, only fear. The scars and trauma of a childhood like that are the kind that never leaves you. Read more about my story.
But I’ve always known I am not alone and I’m not afraid to ask for help. Now, I make sure other people know they are not alone either.