Refugees can be a valuable asset to the community, if given a chance.
Case in point: Sydney’s award-winning defense lawyer Deng Thiak Adut may have an extremely successful career but his early years were filled with severe violence and what he likens to “brainwashing.”
In 1987, he was abducted from his family's banana farm in South Sudan, Africa, and drafted into the rebel forces of Sudan’s People's Liberation Army. At the tender age of 6, Deng underwent aggressive military training and was forced to fight in the country’s long-running civil war as a child soldier.
During his years of army service, he witnessed numerous atrocities committed at the hands of people who had taken him away from his parents. He was only 12 years old when he was shot in the back while running through a village.
However, two years down the road, a chance reunion with his brother turned his life around.
His older brother, whom he had presumed dead, helped smuggle him out of the country in a corn sack on the back of a truck. The two siblings eventually arrived in Western Sydney as refugees in 1998.
At the age of 15, Deng got a job at a service station where he learned English and taught himself how to read and write. He then enrolled at TAFE – a vocational training institution – and lived in his car until he got an accounting diploma and decided to study law as a scholarship student at Western Sydney University in 2005.
After years of hardship and uphill struggle, Deng is a now a practicing lawyer known for his human rights services. In addition to that, he also offers other refugees the legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.
His harrowing story – which has all the makings of an incredibly inspirational movie – was recently documented by the Western Sydney University in a powerful ad campaign themed as “Unlimited.”
As migrant crises unfold all around the world, this video is more than just a university promo.
Though not all refugees become lawyers or have successful careers like Deng, this powerful clip is a humanizing and timely reminder of the trials and tribulations faced by the asylum-seekers in their own homeland.
More importantly, it’s a proof that these individuals are not just a strain on resources. They have as much potential to become productive members of society as anyone else. All they need is a second chance.