Mildura Weekly : Friday November 7 2014 Vol 9 No 1
08 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2014 AS humbling as it is to admit, it took a former refugee to remind me just how good we have it in Australia. What a blessing it is to live in a country of prosperity, plenty and peace. Genevieve Kamara is a young woman of great substance and in- domitable spirit whose amazing sto- ry begins in the Kola refugee camp in Guinea, West Africa, in 1992. She was born there after her parents fled civil war in their home country of Liberia. Her father, a university educated teacher, and her stay-at-home mum met on the dangerous journey from their respective homes to Guinea. Her parents, along with her step- brother Cooper, spent months travel- ling from village to village, and three months surviving in the jungle be- fore crossing the border into Guinea. There they joined tens of thou- sands of fellow displaced Liberians, and at first were sent to the Koyama refugee camp. Genevieve’s brother Samuel was born there before the family was moved to the Kola refugee camp, run by the UNHCR. The war that Genevieve’s parents fled was the first civil war to rock their country. Known as the First Li- berian Civil War, it started in 1989 and ended in 1996. They were safely in Guinea, in the Kola camp, when the second civil war started in their homeland in 1999. It ended in 2003. It is hard, Genevieve says, for a peaceful country like Australian, and Australians, to know how a civil war can rip a country and families apart. The death toll for the two civil wars in Liberia ran into the tens of thousands, and many families like Genevieve’s were ripped part. In the Kola camp the Kamaras lived from month to month, their time marked by regular UN food dis- tribution. They were given the very basics to survive. Wheat was a staple, as were oil and beans, and sometimes a little, highly-prized sugar. Unfortunately, most Liberians prefer rice to wheat, and Genevieve’s mum would often take some of the family’s wheat ration into the nearby Guinean town, selling it and using the money to purchase foodstuffs like rice and salt. Genevieve has vivid memories of being a youngster in the camp, of go- ing to school where her father taught geography. Life in a refugee camp is never easy...food and water are always in limited supply, sanitation is often primitive at best, and diseases that flourish in such close conditions are a constant menace. The saving grac- es, Genevieve recalls, were going to school – although lessons were no- where near as comprehensive as they could have been – and the family’s pet dog whose name in the Kpelle language was unpronounceable for me, but roughly translated as ‘Behav- ioural.’ • Continued next page Why is it that often it takes someone from another country to remind us just how recently when he met an inspiring young former refugee from Guinea Now’s a good time to Leah lends a helping hand GENEVIEVE has met a lot of caring and helpful Aussies since she arrived in our country as a 13-year-old fresh from Kola. One of those people in Mildura is Leah Baldock (Pictured RIGHT with Genevieve). The pair met working at the Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council, and during the past 12 months they have become firm friends. Initially, Genevieve approached Leah for help with her diploma course, but what began as a favour turned to friendship, and now the pair spend a fair bit of time together. Leah has broadened Genevieve’s horizons, taking her on trips around Sunraysia, to places like Dareton and Wentworth on the New South Wales side of the Murray River for example. They have visited landmarks like the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers, had a drink in the front bar of the Royal Hotel, and lunch at the Coomealla Memorial Sporting Club. Genevieve has also fallen for Leah’s dog ‘Elroy,’ and the trio can often be seen walking along the river tracks around the district. Leah says that while Genevieve may have learned some things from her, she has learned just as much from her former refugee friend. At the moment, the big challenge for Genevieve is to learn to swim...and Leah’s helping her with that too! Conveyancing Leasing | | DEAKIN COURT RETIREMENT UNITS Deakin Court Units offer affordable peace of mind for those looking for security in retirement living. Each independent living unit is fully self contained and includes a living room, 1 bedroom & 1 bathroom. Situated 174 Deakin Ave with easy access to Mildura’s CBD, supermarkets, library, swimming pool & fitness centre and the Anglican & Uniting Churches. • Modern kitchen • Bedroom with built-in robes • Recently renovated with new: carpet, tiling, kitchen, bathroom & paint • Reverse cycle heating & cooling • Monitored fi re & personal alarm system • 7 undercover car spaces available Corner Deakin Avenue and Eleventh Street Mildura Contact us for more information or for an inspection 5023 8265 www.malleeanglican.org.au /deakincourt LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO CALL HOME?
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