Sudanese dream of home

"DEFINE 'refugee'."

This is how Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre's refugee settlement services co-ordinator Simon Sogora responded when the Champion approached him about a recent study by international policy researchers, STATT.

The study, The Last Mile, surveyed more than 330 South Sudanese refugees living in Australia. Some 61 per cent said they wanted to return to their home country and work for more than a year, or permanently.

Mr Sogora is well-acquainted with the term refugee.

For the last four years he's worked with refugees and he too came to Australia as a South Sudanese refugee in 2004.

"The definition of a refugee is someone who left their country due to the atrocities happening there," he said. "You're forced to leave your country."

The 40-year-old said there were many reasons behind the desire of returning to his homeland.

"Every family one way or another lost a loved one, and some of them [have] never seen their parents before," he said.

"It's not as simple as refugees leaving Australia. They want to see their families. For me, my parents are still there and so are my brothers and sisters."

He added that settlement was also an arduous process for some.

"Moving to a new country and settlement has got its own challenges," Mr Sogora said.

"Depending on the refugee's pre-departure experience, it can take them up to five years to settle into life here."

Mr Sogora said it was only natural for some refugees to return, since South Sudan gained independence last year.

"Finally peace and stability can be achieved, so of course they want to go back to help build a new nation," he said.

But for Mr Sogora, he's settled into the Australian way of life and hopes to give back to the country.

"I have a young family, my wife and four kids to care for and they've settled here," he said. "I'm looking to get a mortgage here. This country is still our country.

"We're so proud of Australia and its people for offering us the opportunities."

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