Sudanese refugee tells story

UMJUMA was born in a small town, about the size of Gatton, in Sudan and was the youngest of eight children.

Her father had a large farm growing sorghum, wheat, peanuts, corn and vegetables.

He kept chickens for meat and eggs.

An entrepreneur, he owned a shop in the city where he sold produce from other farms in the area.

Umjuma's four brothers and two older sisters went to boarding school in the city.

At 15, Umjuma's sister was raped and left with a baby.

After that Umjuma's mother would not allow her two younger daughters to go to school, so she kept them at home to help her.

When Umjuma was ten years old, war came to her village.

Soldiers arrived and burnt down all the houses and their contents. People ran for their lives.

Umjuma was alone when she ran into the bush.

She had no shoes, so her feet were injured and became swollen, forcing her to crawl.

Separated from her family, she ate leaves from trees. Some people died.

Many had to drink their own urine to survive.

Umjuma was alone in the bush for 1½ months.

She then joined another family with a 7-year-old daughter.

One night as they were sleeping, the little girl, sleeping between her parents, was shot.

Umjuma had about three months with this family, until a freedom fighter took her to another town.

In the town, Umjuma grew up as part of another family.

At the age of 18, she met and married a Zanda man.

He had been educated in an Arabic school and worked as a nurse in a hospital.

Umjuma spent some time with her mother-in-law, who taught her skills in home and family care.

Five children were born into the family before war struck them again.

Umjuma's husband was caught and shot. Not only was she now widowed, but she was thrown into jail, where she was questioned about her husband, being beaten in order to get the information.

She was soon to learn that she was also pregnant.

A man, risking his own life, helped her to escape and re-united her with her children.

Again they had to survive, living in the bush, with little to eat and getting water from leaf dew.

Three months later the Red Cross found the family.

After caring for them for a couple of days, they took them to a refugee camp in Uganda, where they spent the next four years.

Umjuma's brother-in-law was in Australia and he sponsored the family to come here.

Umjuma has found Australia a good, safe country to live in and is happy here.

She and her family are now living in Rosewood, where the children all go to school.

Her greatest wish, however, is to have enough money to travel back to Sudan to see her mother, sisters and brothers, who she has not seen since they were separated when she was 10-years-old.

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