Refugee Week (14-20 June 2020) is an opportunity to celebrate the rich contribution of refugees to Australian life and learn about the challenges they face. For many refugees, a new start is made possible by the hard work of dedicated Services Australia staff who provide immediate and ongoing links to services. Services Australia Programme Support Manager Said Bosco shares his story of resilience and hope.
“I was 6 years old when I left South Sudan. It was the time of the civil war, and day and night, the shelling where we lived in the capital city of Juba would never end,” Said recalls.
“It was a lovely sunny afternoon when my dad came back from work and we were told to get our bags and jump in the car. We’d been carefully instructed to be prepared to leave any time but not to say a single word to anyone. I had no idea where we were going, and to this day, I never had a chance to say goodbye to my friends and neighbours. My dad dropped us off at the place where we had to walk to get to the cargo plane. He gave my mum a Seiko watch. That’s the last time I saw him as a child. It was 20 years before I was able to return to South Sudan and see him again.
“As a kid it felt like a new adventure. Now I know it was the day I was separated from everything I knew about life.
“We travelled to Entebbe in Uganda, where we spent the next 13 years living in a northern Uganda refugee camp. The people spoke different languages. I was raised speaking Ma’di and South Sudanese Arabic, but luckily my mum grew up in Uganda and knew some of the local languages, as well as Swahili.
Uganda gave us everything. If we had stayed in South Sudan, who knows if we would have been able to pursue an education. But it was tough for my mum supporting us as a single mother. I feel that growing up with that adversity made me who I am today-to share the little you have, and to be glad for who you are, because that is what makes you a special and unique individual.
“I completed the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (equivalent to Year 12 here in Australia), but it would have been far too costly for me to go to university. My brother-in-law, who was a student in Australia at the time, offered to sponsor our application to come to Australia. It took just over a year for me to be accepted.
“First, I lived in Tasmania. The feelings of isolation, loneliness and being lost came in waves. But I was lucky to have friends and family who were already here, as well as the Migrant Resource Centre.
“After Tasmania I lived in Central Australia for 10 years before coming to Kalgoorlie. Today, I’m a Programme Support Manager working with Services Australia at the Kalgoorlie Service Centre. I’m doing what I love most, helping people.
“I did not choose to be a refugee. But I am grateful that I can say my experience has given me a lot in life that I cherish and reflect on in the decisions I make each day.”