“Where we were living was like a war zone … it’s been happening for generations and that hasn’t stopped yet, it just keeps going.”
Rabecca Ditt was only a few months’ old when her family first had to escape the dangers of war.
Born in South Sudan, Miss Ditt, her mother and brother had to flee on foot and walk for days until they reached safety.
Miss Ditt and her family fled from South Sudan to the border of Uganda where they stayed for more than 10 years.
“I grew up in many different places, we have been moving around a lot since I was a baby. The last place I moved from was Kenya,” said Miss Ditt.
“We had to move mainly because of the war. Where we were living was like a war zone … it’s been happening for generations and that hasn’t stopped yet, it just keeps going.”
Miss Ditt sustained a debilitating knee injury from a bomb explosion when she was just a toddler. Due to the family’s financial restraints and little access to appropriate medical care Miss Ditt went without proper medical attention for her knee until she arrived in Australia in 2007.
From Uganda, the Ditt family moved to Kenya, which was the start of their journey to Australia. The family resided in Kenya for two years while they waited for a way for their refugee applications to be approved.
“We didn’t have any cars or trains or anything; we just used our [feet] to go to another place,” Miss Ditt recalled.
While Miss Ditt was not directly involved with the application process, when it came to moving to Australia, she recalls being surprised by the amount of support her family received when making the transition from Kenya to Australia.
“I think we were lucky, people wait up to seven years to get to Australia or to America … but for us it took only a year to get here, we were so lucky to get here so quick,” she said.
Fortunately for Miss Ditt and her family, an uncle already living in Australia helped organise the move for them and treatment for Miss Ditt’s knee.
“Everything was easy, when we came everybody was there for you, they show you what to do or how to do it or where to go,” she said.
“Sometimes I sit down and I think back about all the bad things I have been through and it’s hard, it’s really hard … what I have seen in my whole life is really unforgettable.”
Despite her challenging and difficult childhood, Mis Ditt is happier with her more peaceful and opportunistic life in Australia. She dreams of being a chef and is undertaking an apprenticeship in hospitality.
Although she misses her friends, Miss Ditt says there is little else she misses from her life before Australia.
“The people that I miss the most are my friends the people that I grew up with back in Uganda because we had been together for more than 10 years … I still miss them even now,” she said.
“[In Australia] everything is different and better.” – Rebecca Hopper and Ash Cant