When I was just 9 years old, a Sudanese rebel group, known as the SPLA forcefully removed us, thousands of boys around my age, from our families and forced us to trek across the unforgiving, blistering wilderness of Southern Sudan to Pinyudu, Ethiopia. For more than a month on foot, we survived by eating edible leaves and gazelle meat thanked to the rebels who were accompanying us. Lions and hyenas preyed upon boys who lagged behind in the dark. The rebels claimed they were taking us to school because of the on-going war in the Sudan. But we instinctively knew we were rebels in the making. It was a matter of time before we would wear their uniforms and carry AK-47s.
We arrived in Pinyudu but the “Promised Land” turned out a place of horrors. Diseases and hunger fell and raged and boys died like flies. Mental illness we had never heard off overwhelmed the camp. Thousands of boys hallucinated. They called their Mums and favourite cows’ names and scratching their heads why there were no responses. There were no shelters and we spent days and nights under trees. I don’t know why I survived. Good houses and schooling the SPLA rebels had preached to us turned out a deception.
Where Am I Now?
I migrated to this great country over a decade ago. I was only armed with high school education I was lucky to complete in a refugee camp. I was over the moon. I felt my future was bright regardless of any odds or adversities. But time crawled by. Even though I have loved my time here and would never think otherwise, it was not an easy thing to move to a new country. Finding a job, just a job for the first year proved very difficult for me. Lack of local experience was always the issue. But I never gave up or allowed negative thoughts to occupy my mind. In the first place, I knew I was privileged to be here. I left my city to find a job elsewhere and my persistence soon paid off. I got what I then called a decent job, working in a chicken factory. Yes, it was decent and I was happy.
After working for a year in this company, my number one dream I had wanted to achieve in this country vividly occurred to me. I then left my job and enrolled in a university. Two-and-half years later, when I realised my prospects of getting a career job were very limited, I decided to join Australia Defence Force as a part-timer. I went away for training and two months later after my return, I got a bank job while I was completing my degree.
It is difficult in this country like other countries for a migrant to find a job, but I have also learnt that persistence and perseverance pay off. I have learnt that maintaining a positive attitude and a personable mindset bear desirable fruits. Even though the future is still not very clear, I now have my career job and I know that regardless of any obstacle and impediment, I will always succeed. I am a big believer in our common humanity and so I feel sharing personal stories inspires and motivates us as human beings.
My name is Francis Deng.