Monday, May 31, 2004


Mona, 18, who is on the verge of finishing her diploma course at Adelaide Institute of TAFE, plans to go to the university next year. The long match to freedom and a tertiary education, in a relatively short period of time, has been a tremendous achievement for one so young.

Mona (friends call her Mona Lisa) has various hobbies and interests that should be noted: she wants to travel, see the world, and if possible engage in international business. In her freshly minted mind, traveling is a form of education and always will be.

She was born in Port Sudan (the chief port of the Sudan on the Red Sea), but moved to Egypt because of the crisis in her home country. The family arrived Australia in 2000. And Mona is adapting extremely well to life in the land Down Under. “The life-style in Australia is quite good…and the people are friendly”, she says with a sweet smile, but “finding a good job is very challenging”.

Indeed, Mona is a beautiful young woman with a “clean life-style” and a strong religious belief. She neither smokes. Nor drinks. Nor go to the night clubs. But thrives in the company of good friends, and the family.

Thus, in a very special way, mixing beauty and intelligence and a good sense of humour has served Mona well. In fact, it has contributed immensely to her success in Australian society.

Sunday, May 30, 2004


Ayen Dinka (not her real name) arrived Australia with her family in 1999, full of hope. She thinks the world of Australia and she is ever so grateful for the generosity the people of Adelaide have shown towards her family since arrival.

Ayen is only 18, (friends call her Nefertiti because of her immense beauty), a sweet and delightful girl who loves music and art and is totally comfortable with her status in Australian society. “There are lots of opportunities here”, she says; “Australian women have a great deal of freedom and equality” compared with women in patriarchal Africa. Her principal aim is to go to the university, study law, and “fight for women rights in Africa”. I think she needs all our love and moral support.

In fact, Ayen sees the world with the sweetness and skepticism of an Angel. She welcomes the peace agreement between North and South after half a century of civil war in her native Sudan, but is greatly disappointed that a separate conflict in the Western region of Darfur will prolong the agony and despair in that country.

This, in a very small nutshell, is the beginning of the record of Ayen’s life and times in Australia. May all her dreams come true.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Being a refugee is one of life’s most traumatic experiences. When you move from one country to another, as a refugee, you will never feel entirely at home in the new culture. But Mugicho Aime` Ruigira (popularly known as Aime`) has made the most of a challenging situation.

Aime` left his homeland in the Congo because of the civil war between the forces of the late President Mobutu Sese Seko and Laurent Kabila’s rebels; and has never looked back. The revolt that brought Kabila to power erupted when the Zairen Tutsis took up arms against the Mobutu government’s plan to strip them of their land and force them to leave the country. As a result of the rebellion, law and order collapsed in the country, the national army disintegrated, Kabila came to power and renamed Zaire “The Democratic Republic of Congo”. Aime` fled to Tanzania; and from there, he moved to Thailand as a refugee.

He came to Australia four years ago to start a new life. And having lived and loved and improved his English in South Australia, he has taken to the Australian way of life like ducks to water. “I like Australia – it’s really very peaceful here” he says “the people are nice, loving, caring, and friendly”.

Aime` has a well refined taste in fashion and is always impeccably dressed. He likes sports, and the finer things in life; including popular music. And plays soccer at weekends "Just for fun”.

Aime` is extremely flexible in his approach to the job market. He has worked in a number of part-time positions in Adelaide (and continues to do so), “Just to keep the body and soul together”, as he puts it, “What I really need at the moment is a full-time job”.

Nevertheless, Aime` is the first to admit that finding a full-time job is becoming a “big problem” for African refugees in South Australia, even for the well qualified professionals like lawyers, accountants, engineers, doctors and teachers.

Aime` is still “working and studying “ and hoping for the best.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


It has been a long and difficult journey from the remote community of Juba in Sudan to the city of Adelaide. But this is the life of an African refugee. Tony Ogeno Oyet, 26, has lived in Uganda and was in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya for a couple of years before coming to Australia in 2003. Now living in South Australia, he is a student of International Business at Adelaide Institute of TAFE – a milestone for a young refugee.

He reckons being in Australia has restored his hope in humanity and has given him the opportunity to study and improve himself, despite the separation from his family. “I always wanted to understand the dynamics of the international business environment; and learn more about finance”. Tony is a voracious reader with an obvious passion for his studies.

He speaks of the problem of isolation and distance from the family he left behind in Sudan: “I have been trying to bring my family here since last year, but without success”. Nevertheless, despite the set-back, Tony still believes there is no better place in the world than Australia. In fact, he likes the life-style in Adelaide, the goodwill of the people, and the wider community support for the African refugees.

Tony says “anything is possible” here. And, with such a positive frame of mind, there is something very special for him in the “Promised land”. He has a bright future ahead of him in Australia.

Watch this space!

Saturday, May 22, 2004


African Forum
Saturday 22nd May 2004

This forum is facilitated by the Multicultural Education Committee (MEC), an Advisory Committee to the Minister of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia.

The aim of the forum is to develop:

• Greater cultural awareness of the problems facing African migrants and refugees in South Australia and to support the participation of parents and students of African background in schools and Children’s Services.

• School-wide inclusive strategies to support students in African-Australian communities

• Community and education networks for improving cross-cultural understanding in learning commuinties

On the whole, the forum is a genuine opportunity to discuss African disadvantage and address the issues affecting the newly arrived refugees and migrants in Australian society.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Significant population increase through migration and refugee intake is the way of the future in all post-industrial societies; including Australia. In particular, the state budget documents just released in Adelaide warn: "South Australia will have to increasingly rely on migration to support population and labour force growth". The papers say "migrants are needed to augment skill development" and to "counter our continuing low fertility level" (Advertiser, May 2004).

Towards this end, the Australians have opened their hearts to African refugees. The Federal Government says in a recent policy statement that 75% of the Australian refugee intake this year will come from Africa. The Sudanese refugees will be the most numerous group of the African contingent among the 1800 humanitarian refugees to be granted asylum in Australia in 2004.

In South Australia (and other states), a new wave of migration is making its mark as refugees from Africa seek a safer place to live - away from the horrors of famine and civil wars in their home countries. A total of 8000 Sudanese and 2000 Somalis have arrived Australia since 1996; and 600 Sierra Leonians since 1999, but more are coming every month.

Generally speaking, Australia is a land of migrants and refugees. The first wave of migration to this ancient land was mainly from Europe; the second wave from Asia and Latin America. The Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) of South Australia believes that the third wave of post-World War II migration to Australia is coming from countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zaire. The MRC is, basically, concerned with welfare issues and has provided resources to help the resettlement of more than 3000 newly-arrived refugees in South Australia in the past few years.

The new sensibility in Australia’s relations with Africa is already bearing fruits and is likely to generate enormous socio-economic and cultural benefits to the nation in years to come. The Africans are very popular here; and are extremely adaptable. Their smiling faces and regal appearance have endeared them to the Australian population at large.