Interview by Jamie O’Brien, words by Eric Martin
Nollamara Parishioner, Philip Lako, caught up with Archdiocesan Communications Manager and The Record Editor, Jamie O’ Brien, to discuss the launch of his new book 10-Year-Old Man, which tells his story as a child soldier in Southern Sudan.
At age 10, Philip was taken by the Sudan People Liberation Movement and forced into a decade long war at the hands of the rebels.
“The rebels tricked the villagers into believing that their children were going to pursue further educational studies outside the village, but in reality, they were being removed from their families to be trained as child soldiers,” Philip said.
“The book captures the lifestyle of a child growing up in a very tiny village which was not connected to any other part of the world, we didn’t even know there were other people existing until I was removed from that village,” Philip explained.
“My book is more or less about telling the world, ‘There are other sections of the world where life is not fair, and some of those other challenges are not brought in by the people themselves, but by others, in this case the government’.”
Philip arrived in Australia in 2004, brought here by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a migrant, fleeing persecution by the Government of Sudan.
“I arrived by myself, as a matter of fact, I didn’t have anybody that I knew, but after arriving in Australia, the system here is really supportive of newly migrants,” he said.
Now married, with 4 children, Philip is heavily involved with several Catholic organisations and works (FIFO) as a safety advisor for a mining company. He sees volunteering as another way of giving back to Australian society.
“I do a lot of volunteering with Rotary International, I am a member of Rotary, and also do a bit of volunteering with St Vincent De Paul, which is a Catholic based organisation in the parish. Within Rotary there is a homelessness project which I am also a part of,” Philip said.
“I’m an active participant in the choir group, we have brought in a very African style of singing. We see it as another way we can give to the society that has taken care of us, Australia being one of the countries that has helped so many refugees.”