Long journey to new life

Former refugee Dr John Mugabushaka has done much with his life so far.

Like many people he has overcome adversity, met challenges head-on and always looked out for his family.

Unlike most people, he has had to do all this while dodging bullets and fleeing from his homeland, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in central Africa.

Dr Mugabushaka spoke at the Two Wells Uniting Church hall about his journey from Africa to Australia and life as a refugee.

His June 14 presentation was part of Refugee Week activities held across the state in recognition and support of refugees.

Dr Mugabushaka told the gathering he arrived in Australia in 2005 after a long and sometimes dangerous journey throughout Africa over many years, with time spent in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique.

“The grounds for refugee status is based on lots of things, including race, religion, nationality, political opinion and fear.” Dr Mugabushaka said.

“But these definitions don’t tell you a lot.

“It doesn’t tell you what’s happening in the refugee’s mind, it doesn’t tell you about split families and it doesn’t tell you also about some other luggage refugees online casino carry, their culture.

“How you adjust to all these changes, that’s the struggle of the settlement process (but) my culture helped me survive on many occasions.”

In the past Dr Mugabushaka worked with the African Communities Council and is now with the Legal Services Commission of South Australia.

He holds a PhD in politics and public policy from Flinders University, a master of public administration and a graduate certificate in public sector management from the same university.

Dr Mugabushaka also holds a master of education degree from his home country and has worked with the United Nations system and with many international non-government organisations.

He told the gathering the peace and stability of life in Australia is unparalleled in the world and despite initially feeling “lost” when he arrived, believes this country has much to offer him and his family.

“When I first got here I was somewhat lost, I thought ‘why did I come here?’,” Dr Mugabushaka said.

“But then I realised there’s something here I couldn’t have anywhere else. There’s peace, and that’s number one, and there’s better chances for my children.”

Paul Schmelzkopf, who organised the presentation said he had heard Dr Mugabushaka speak on a number of occasions and was inspired by his story.

“It’s certainly altered my way of thinking,” he said.

“It gives you some insight into the issues that people are facing when they come to Australia.”

Refugee week concluded on June 22 with a walk in the city to celebrate cultural diversity.

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