My son Bryce came home one evening and told me about a man who’d visited his school to speak about his experience as a refugee, and about the charity he established to assist South Sudanese both in Australia and in Africa. Bryce was quite moved by the man’s story and as he related it to me I couldn’t help but be moved by it too. I tracked down Emmanuel through the school, initially only seeking to post his story here on scribblehead. The rest as they say…
As I began interviewing Emmanuel Kondok I realised I had to record an oral history. I contacted Oral History Australia and hired a digital audio recorder. Trish Levido of the OHA mentioned Sally Hone over at the NSW State Library might be interested. I contacted Sally, who was so keen she said don’t use their gear, use my gear please. Emmanuel and I got together one Sunday afternoon and recorded an interview of 4 hours and 11 minutes, which is now part of the NSW State Library’s oral history collection.
Now I’m helping Emmanuel with his charity, Southern Hope Community Organisation, who provide support to South Sudanese refugees settling here in Australia, and also raise money for programs back in South Sudan such as providing water wells that service whole communities, and building small community buildings. There’s talk of a television documentary as Emmanuel returns to South Sudan next year to inspect these projects, at the same time being reunited with his mother who he hasn’t seen since he fled his homeland at 12 years of age to become one of Africa’s “lost boys”.
Please take the time to read the story of Emmanuel Kondok.