Daniella’s story

“Imagine having to run for your life, to share shelter with savage wild animals, having your home destroyed, and not being able to save your treasures from being stolen.

Imagine just for a second, witnessing the death of your family and loved ones. For most this is just a nightmare, but to many it is a horribly true and terrifying reality due to the 10 year Civil war in Sierra Leone.

My name is Daniella; I was born in West Africa, Sierra Leone. I migrated to Australia in February 2011. My family was among the thousands of people who were forced to become refugees during the Civil war in Sierra Leone.

I was born into a world full of tragedy and suffering, like many others of my generation. To fully understand the scale of what I am talking about you need a deeper understanding of the cause and effect of the Sierra Leone Civil war. The Sierra Leone civil war started in the early 1990’s; the main cause of the war was civil discontentment with the political system, the

government parties and distribution of Sierra Leone’s natural resources, especially diamonds. During the war, millions of people lost their lives, tens of thousands left damaged and more than millions have been displaced. Young children full of potential became soldiers, slaves’ even prostitutes in their fight for survival. The war stole our hopes, our potentials, our dreams and our future.

Before the war, both my sister and I were living with our parents, everything was going fine. My dad had a good job and we were truly enjoying our childhood until (1999) when the war separated my family. My mother was lost, we didn’t know her where about. My sister and I were left with my father and my grandmother, my father was worried for our safety, because during that time the rebels were capturing young girls to be prostitute and young boys to join their dangerous activities. We had limited food and clothing. The rebels brought us pain fear and suffering. The people we had grown to know and love, our friends, even our family; killed, raped, and tortured. For our own safety, we had to seek refuge in Senegal, a country where we didn’t know anyone nor did we understand the language. At the age of (10) I saw my father; a strong man became unemployed living under the control of others in order to be able to support us.

We lived in Senegal for more than 5 years, sadly my father became very ill and we lost him in 2009. My sister and I were left with our grandmother; we had no one to support us without my father so my grandmother moved to Guinea where we stayed with some relatives who went to seek refugee in Guinea. That was when we heard news about my mother through friends; we got told she travelled to Australia in 2007. We got in contact with my mum and she started sponsoring us. She promised to help us and that we would join her here. Because we were missing during my mother’s immigration process, she had to file for Child migration visa for my sister and I. We travelled to Ghana in 2010 to start our visa process, we had to do DNA test to prove that we are our mother’s children. My grandmother couldn’t come with us because it would’ve been difficult for my mother.

Luckily we were granted visa in January 2011, we arrived here in February. Coming to Australia restore my hope for the future, especially reuniting with my mother after all those years has become one of the most memorable moments in my life. When I arrived here, I started Intensive English Centre (IEC) at Holroyd; going to school here was very different to what I was introduced to in Africa. Everything was going fine, my sister and I like the new environment, we are still able to practice our traditional culture and eat our traditional Sierra Leone meals. Sadly in September 2011 we had a family breakdown and I had to move out of home. Despite the difficulties, I continued my education, studying English and doing things to help build my future. One of the main reasons why I continued to study is that even though I felt lost, I never stopped because I had the opportunities that I would’ve never come across if I was in Africa. With the help of Auburn Youth Centre and Marist Youth Care, I’ve been given a place to call home and I can never thank them enough for all the support. I’m currently completing my certificate four in Community services and I’m hoping to start university next year to continue my studies in Social science. That’s my experience so far in Australia, and I believe with the support of AYC and Marist I would be able to reach my goals and fulfil my dreams.”


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