Wednesday, January 05, 2005


A positive attitude to life and hard work have eventually brought her a bit of fame and increasing recognition as an effective member of the local community.

Joyce Modong of Woodville Gardens has recently won an appreciation award for her work in promoting cultural understanding in the western suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.

The award was presented by the Housing Minister, Jay Weatherill And according to the Weekly Times Messenger newspaper, other prominent Housing Trust residents from the area also receive awards for their contributions to the community.

But the significance of Joy’s award must be noted. In fact, she is the first African woman to be honoured with such an award. And besides, her constructive engagement with the local community seems to fit nicely into the great Australian tradition of community work.

Joyce likes to help!

“I enjoy working with people; helping those who cannot help themselves”, she says.

“I work with old people on a daily basis: washing, ironing, cleaning, talking with them, sharing the culture…Telling them about Africa”. Her work has touched so many people!

One thing is certain, though! Joyce has been sublimely integrated into the cultural landscape of modern Australia; drawing inspiration from her African roots and a great sense of community.

She is also active in the emerging African community in South Australia; “helping the new arrivals, advising them, giving them reason to live”; especially those young people who are lost in the urban jungle.

“These kids need a lot of support”, she says, with a great deal of empathy. “They don’t even know exactly where their parents are. Or where their next meal is coming from”.

She takes the poor and the helpless youths to heart; forever thinking about their welfare; and wishing she could do more to help them.

Thus, without an iota of doubt, the official recognition of Joyce’s work is a great personal achievement for a woman who came to Australia as a refugee just three years ago in search of protection and a better life for her family. Her metamorphosis is the stuff of legends!

Before arriving Australia, Joyce and her 8 children spent two years in a Ugandan refugee camp after fleeing the civil war in Southern Sudan.

“Life in the refugee camp was extremely hard for me and my children”, Joyce says.

“There was very little to eat…And the living condition was deplorable; but we managed to survive. It was difficult, to say the least”.

Now, she is at peace with herself: obviously conscious of her own identity as an African-Australian, while at the same time seriously trying to embrace the fundamental values of the mainstream culture.

The thing is that as a quiet, unassuming, woman with natural abilities and zest for life, Joyce has what it takes to make an effective contribution to the development of civil society in Australia. She is incredibly smart, interesting, and thoughtful!

A devoted mother!!

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