The South Sudanese community in Melbourne came together to celebrate the educational achievement of one of the community members, Abraham Telar, who is also an Executive Director and Founder of Wellbeing Foundation South Sudan.
The celebration took place against a backdrop of turmoil in their home country.
South Sudan has been rocked by civil war since 2013.
The new country came into existence in 2011, with no institutions or infrastructure, and was bogged down by power struggles resulting in civil war.
In Australia, there are an estimated five thousand people either born in South Sudan, or having South Sudanese ancestry.
There is evidence the South Sudanese, as a young community, is stigmatized.
For example, young South Sudanese say the police pay unnecessary attention to them, when they are just going about their day-to-day business.
In response, South Sudanese people in Melbourne have set up programs that try to build and repair relationships in the community between young and old, as well as outside the community with groups and authorities, such as the police.
Recently, one young South Sudanese community member celebrated the completion of his master’s degree.
Abraham Telar and his parents invited the whole South Sudanese community to the Croatian hall in Sunshine, to help celebrate successful completion of a Masters in Politics and Public Policy, from Deakin University.
Mr. Bol Aweng Machar is a leader of the Dinka community, which Abraham Telar is also a part of.
Mr. Machar said the occasion was a significant one.
“We are showing this to encourage children from primary to university and most importantly to those who drop out to gather themselves together with courage,” he said.
“If Abraham Telar started his school in the remote and semi-desert of Kenya, Kakuma refugee camp, scorching sun, and proceed to a masters degree then we can do it too.”
He said that the community was seeking support to help tutor children, and encourage them to go on to similar successes as Mr Telar’s.
“We are under the South Sudanese community (as a whole) led by Kot Monoah. Therefore, what we do as a joint South Sudanese group, is to talk to the government to give us funding so that we can look for teachers to help those children whose parents cannot help them with assignments.”
Late last year, the Victorian government announced a multimillion dollar initiative to help Victoria’s African community improve their job prospects.
In addition, the state government commited $1 million over four years to “help South Sudanese community organisations build their capacity and promote new partnerships within the community.”
Mr. Machar said community leader Monoah is expected to consult with other community leaders on how the funds will be best spent.
“He will call a meeting soon to tell us the kind of projects this money was released for and also, for us to suggest to him what we think should be given the first priority in the community,” he said.
I am here today with Bol Aweng Machar, Bol is one of executive in the office of Dinka community.
Bol what is this celebration about?
Thank Clement for calling me and asked me about why we we are dancing today. WE are dancing because Abraham Telar has finished Masters in Politics and public policy. So, is family and Yirol community organised this and called all of us as South Sudanese to celebrate with them. This one of the achievement felt it would be beneficial to our community here in Australia. As well as in South Sudan.
Are you showing it to entire community to encourage others to put some efforts to whatever, they are doing?
Yes, this is celebrated to encourage parents and their children in primary schools, high school and tertiary the the level telar reached today in challenging circumstances, any person in our community from children to a dult can do well and make all of us dance with happiness. This would help us to contribute positively been doing our part in our Multicultural society here in Australia.
is it about celebrating community role model?
Yes we are showing this to encourage children from primary to University and most importantly to those drop out children to gathered themselves together with courage that if Abraham Telar started his school in a remote and semi-desert of Kakuma refugee camp, scoucage sun, and proceed to masters then we can do it too.
As leaders of Dinka community do you have program of tutoring children?
We are under South Sudanese community led by Kot Manoh. Therefore, what we do we joint South Sudanese leadership to talk to the government to give us funding so that we can look for teachers to help those children whose parents cannot help them with assignments.
We one of effective communities within South Sudanese community leadership
Anything material yet from government side?
The chairman of South Sudanese community, Kot Manoh told us that Australia government has release $ 1milion AUD for our community so, he would call a meeting soon to tell us the kind of project this money was release for and also, advise him what we think we should be given the first priority in the community.
Clement Deng is a Master of Communication (Journalism Innovation) student at La Trobe Univeristy. He holds a Bachelor degree in International Development, and set up the Guiir Baai (Build the Nation) school in the Gogrial state in the Bahr-el-gazal region of South Sudan.