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We are better off in the war zone than in Australia

Mark Monahan, Executive Officer, Edmund Rice Services – Mt Atkinson

Occasionally an article comes across my desk that provokes me to stop and contemplate the important messages in it. Biong Biong, Executive Officer of Edmund Rice Community and Refugee Services, has written one of those punching articles that has impacted me professionally and personally. Such was the impact that I asked him if I could share it on his behalf because I want this small effort to say, I not only stand with him, but especially with the mums that are so deeply impacted by some of our communities unsatisfactory expression of welcome.

Please take the time to read this important article and drop Biong a note to ensure he knows we walk in solidarity with him and our South Sudanese community.  

Wednesday, December 04, 2019 (PW) Amidst Melbourne’s African youth crime saga and its associated political chaos, a quiet cohort watch events unfold, weary and grim-faced. They are the struggling mothers of the South-Sudanese community, family-minded women, once optimistic of a peaceful new life after decades of war and upheaval.

Now, they say, each day is a battle. Many are barely coping from the turmoil surrounding their teens, and complex issues arising from long-term settlement have deeply shaken their resilience.

The youth crisis is compounded by alarming numbers of suicides and stress-related deaths in the South-Sudanese community, with mental illness, unemployment, family breakdown, and constant threats of homelessness, financial pressures and more impacting the community in Victoria.

Mothers, in particular, have carried much of these burdens. Their silent sufferings have been overshadowed by the youth, and this stoic but exhausted army of women contend with feelings of hopelessness, regret, discontent with the legal system, and the crushing sense of not belonging.

These are my immediate observations when I engage with these affected mothers. Many express sorrow about their initial decision to resettle into the country, lamenting that “we were better off in a warzone or a refugee camp than being in Australia”.

Statements such as these are commonplace in my conversations with South-Sudanese women. And so, the question must be asked: if a mother can prefer life in a warzone over the world’s most liveable city, where did it all go so horrifically wrong?

Continue reading the full article, here.

Note: PaanLuël Wel is a blog by South Sudanese bloggers for, and about, South Sudan.

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