Friday, August 05, 2005

The Rise of Khadija Gbla: a Life Full of Promise

The road to paradise is not for the tender foot. But Khadija Gbla, a young girl from Sierra Leone, is determined to create a new life for herself in Australia.

“It was a long and memorable journey to the land Down Under”, Khadija says; reflecting on her long passage to Australia. “It took ages to arrive…But we finally made it”.

In fact, it was happiness itself when she touched down in Sydney with stars in her eyes. But her real journey through life had only just begun. The early days of arrival in Australia were the most difficult days of Khadija’s young life, as a refugee.

(She was only 13 years old then, when the civil war in the West African country of Sierra Leone forced her family to seek refuge in Australia. She is now 17 and wiser beyond her years.)

Looking back, there were unresolved problems of adaptation to the Australian way of life. The yearning for Africa overwhelmed her!

“For days I didn’t see any African in this part of the world - not even a soul; only a sea of alien friendly faces. I didn’t know anybody here”, she says.

“Everything was different; including the food, culture, attitudes, values, and even the transportation system”.

The rapid pace of change was just too much for a young impressionistic girl like Khadija to take.

“I became sick and depressed for the first time in my entire life”, she says.

“But it wasn’t sickness from any type of disease; it was just the fact that my own self was trying to make sense of the world around me”, she explains.

“I was empty. I was lost. My whole world fell apart. I didn’t know who I was, as a person, anymore”.

In fact, as far as Khadija is concerned, those were the days of great discontent, of uncertainty and lots of pain. But those days have long gone, forever!

Now, as the new reality dawns, there is a sense of wellbeing, even of confidence and excitement in Khadija’s world as she waltzes into adulthood.

“I was held back by my own thinking during the early days of arrival – probably due to fear of the unknown”, she says.

“Now, I have found myself. I know who I am and what I want out of life”. Nothing surpasses self-discovery! (So, that’s where all the abundant energy and excitement are coming from.)

There is absolutely no doubt that Khadija has turned over a new leaf; excelling in her studies at the Mitcham Girls High School in Adelaide, South Australia. She has a great passion for learning! And a burning desire to make a significant contribution to the Australian society.

“I have accepted Australia as my new home (effectively breaking down the barriers)”, she says, with a broad smile.

“And I have every reason to aim high and achieve my goals; I think anything is possible here in this country”. The sky is the limit, really!

Khadija is a silent achiever; a young girl on the move. Among other things, she is an active member of the “Youth Parliament” program in South Australia. She is also on the verge of joining the Youth Advisory Committee in the Charles Sturt council area; giving African youths a voice in program development.

Meanwhile, she wants to get actively involved in humanitarian work; helping those in need; including fund raising for breast cancer research in Australia.
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