IF YOU were a face among thousands of people praying for a way out of their desperate situation it would be easy to give up hope.
Sudanese-born Deng Anthony spent 11 long years in a refugee camp in Uganda hoping to find a way out to a better life and, finally, one day it came.
It was a chance meeting in the camp with another Sudanese man who was living in America that changed his life.
The new friend offered to pay for Mr Anthony’s essential medical checks in order to gain approval for entry into Australia and also the cost of his flights to Sydney.
“Life was hard in the camp,” he said.
“When I look back and see what I am now and what I faced when I was younger.”
Mr Anthony said he always wanted to come to Australia.
“If you go to Australia it’s like you’ve gone to heaven,” he said.
“You can hear the birds sing, there’s no sounds of gunshots.”
Before his time at the refugee camp Mr Anthony had experienced the crushing brutality of dictator Joseph Kony as the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan guerrilla group.
“I’ve experienced what Kony was doing,” he said
Mr Anthony arrived in Australia as a 23-year-old in 2004 and now calls Orange home.
Since then he has set about improving the life of his mother and seven siblings back in Uganda.
His mother runs an orphanage that houses not only her own children but 10 others orphaned through the brutality of Kony’s regime, according to Mr Anthony.
He said it was his “responsibility” to provide for his family and said he worked hard here to send money back home.
During the 2012 Refugee Week the theme of restoring hope will be discussed, with Mr Anthony reflecting on what this means for the Sudanese community.
The Orange community is invited to attend the Refugee Week event at the Senior Citizen’s Centre this Friday from 5.30pm. Entry to the family event and talk is by gold coin donation, with participants asked to bring a plate of something sweet for supper.