Sudanese mum celebrates new life
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
SUDANESE refugee Anna Kothea fought back tears yesterday as she told of spending 12 years fearing for her life in a makeshift camp away from her homeland.
Anna, 25, grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp before being granted an Australian visa and settling in Lismore one year ago with six other Sudanese families.
Speaking at World Refugee Day celebrations at Lismore TAFE, Anna said she had been overwhelmed by the community's acceptance of her family.
"The people of Lismore have been really good to us. Whenever I need help, I can get help," she said.
"There are so many opportunities here. I can study, and my children will get a better life here.
"We don't have to worry when we go to bed at night.
"In the refugee camp people would be killed at night, and when we first came here my children would hear a noise at night then lie on the floor because they were scared someone was coming to get them."
Anna said it was a liberating feeling to be celebrating World Refugee Day away from the camp she called home for most of her life.
"This is the first Refugee Day we've celebrated in Australia. In the refugee camp the houses were made of mud with no electricity or running water," she said.
"Now I've been to Sydney and seen tall buildings. I shop at the supermarket and there are playgrounds for my kids. I've used a computer and learnt English.
"The most surprising thing was seeing the ocean for the first time. It's amazing."