After years of violent and bloody conflict, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, becoming the world’s newest country. But what was meant to be a new era of hope has been marred by more violence as civil war engulfs the nation.
A large number of refugees have sought asylum in Australia. BuzzFeed News travelled to western Sydney where many South Sudanese refugees have been resettled and found a group of people determined to prove that asylum seekers are doing amazing things.
Deng Adut, 32.
As a six-year-old, Deng Adut was snatched away from his mother and forced to become a child soldier. At the age of 12 he was seriously injured after being shot in the spine. After being smuggled into neighbouring Kenya by a family member, Adut eventually came to Australia as a refugee in 1998.
Adut taught himself to read and write English at 15 and lived in his car while studying law at university. Today Adut is a solicitor and principal partner at a law firm in the western Sydney suburb of Blacktown.
Ajok Marial, 17 years old.
Ajok came to Australia as a five-year-old from war-torn South Sudan.
Now in her final year of high school, Marial is an aspiring model who wants to see more diversity on the catwalk and she is also determined to become a human rights lawyer.
Acuoth Acol, 31.
Acuoth and his family fled from South Sudan to Egypt in 2000, where they stayed for two years, arriving in Australia in 2002 at the age of 18 along with his six siblings.
Today Acol is a youth development worker for the Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) and has dedicated his life to helping young refugees.
Farous Nghath, 19.
After fleeing the violence in south Sudan, Farous and her family lived in Egypt as refugees. Raised by her single mother, she moved to Australia as a seven-year-old.
Fluent in Arabic and English, Nghath is an elite sportsperson who will attend Ohio State University in the United States next year on a soccer scholarship. Nghath wants to return to South Sudan and set up a school.
Apar Manyang, 22.
Apar came to Australia as an 11-year-old refugee in 2004 after living in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Manyang uses music as a way of bringing awareness to issues facing young people. He is studying music production in Sydney and has dreams of becoming a successful writer and producer.
Marial Adel, 25.
Marial came to Australia as a 14-year-old and endured years of racism at high school. Today the labourer has an 18-month-old daughter and he wants her to grow up proud of her Sudanese and Australian heritage.
Adel has a passion for traditional dance and is part of a Dinka Agaar dance group.
Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.
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