Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Conversation with Pele Okumu

Pele Okumu knows a great deal about the struggle for survival. But his new life in Australia has given him some hope and a few ideas to chew over. I had a chat with him a few days ago.

What is your country of origin?

I was born in Southern Sudan and grew up in the Acholi-speaking areas of the country till the war and famine forced me to leave. And I left my childhood behind!

How long have you been in Australia?

I 've lived in Australia, as a refugee, for six years

What do you like most about Australia?

I like the peace and security here. There is also a lot of opportunity for education and self-improvement. And the people are very nice!

What is your favourite food?

I have tried different types of dishes, since my arrival. But I’m still very passionate about the taste of African food – I like it spicy with lots of vegetables.

What is your favourite drink?

I like a glass of cold water. But, sometimes, I drink orange juice or fanta. Alcoholic beverage is not for me!

Favourite read?

I read non-fiction books. I also read newspapers, and magazines.

Favourite TV programs?

Reality TV is my favourite program. But I do watch the news, current affairs, and documentaries on the ABC and SBS. (I also listen to the BBC News.)

Favourite music?

African traditional music, pop, R & B.

What is your ultimate goal?

My goal is to travel around the world, help those in need, and be a good citizen. But, first, I must get a good education, and a better job.

What would you do to help improve the living conditions of African refugees in Australia?

Firstly, I would like to help the poor and single mothers who are really struggling to survive; and who are still crying out for affordable accommodation, living expenses and childcare.

The new arrivals also need all the support they can get in terms of access to education, and job opportunities. The young ones need special care and protection. And some have already lost their way!

I think they need a good dose of cultural orientation to remind them of their roots.
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