Refugee Week 2022: Perth refugee speaks of success and new life in Australia

30 Jun 2022

By The Record

Nollamara Parishioners with Fr Stan.
Nollamara parishioners, with Parish Priest Fr Stan Bendowski, came together for 2022 Refugee Week. Photo: Supplied.

Our Lady of Lourdes Nollamara Parish was the place to be to mark the end of National Refugee Week.

A well-attended 9am Mass, which included a rousing multi-lingual choir and a homily that grounded present-day reality in the Gospels – all contributed to a fitting end to the week.

At a morning tea to mark the occasion, parishioner Philip Lako spoke of his experiences in South Sudan and his life changing journey which brought him to Australia – the country, he says, that gave him a second chance.

Philip Lako tells the harrowing story of life while in South Sudan. Photo: Supplied

Mr Lako’s heart-rending and eye-opening story told of a young boy “given away” by his family, leading to his challenging experiences of battling hunger, fear and the cold, while at the same time learning the art of survival in a world of prolonged suffering.

Mr Lako also spoke of his experiences in praying to fall sick so that he could end up in hospital, so that he could earn money by selling the food he would have been given.

Mr Lako is now living a successful life here in Perth where he arrived as a refugee in 2004.

The mentor, migrant, advocate and author is also a member of Perth Rotary and Artists 4A Cause.

In addition to his many successes, Mr Lako spoke with warmth about his work as a volunteer with organisations including St Vincent de Paul and MercyCare.

It was this work at MercyCare that drew the attention of the media, with Mr Lako highlighting as one of his biggest achievements in having the opportunity to speak with Federal Minister Alannah McTiernan about employing refugees in the mining towns of WA.

James Wani gets ready to tell the story of a school in Sindiru village. Photo: Supplied.

AUSUDAN member James Wani continued by going on to speak about the assistance the South Sudanese community in Perth is providing to the people of the Sindiru village in South Sudan.

The group has been successful in having two boreholes for water installed as well as a maize grinding machine.

The next project they are supporting includes the building of a new school, with the project nearing completion.

It is hoped the school will employ approximately five teachers while being financially self-sufficient within in three years.