A tough road to the Territory 

Mohammed Ahmed Yossuf

It has been a long road to the Territory for 21-year-old refugee Mohammed Ahmed Yossuf and his family.

Mohammed was eight years old when his family fled Somalia for a refugee camp in Eritrea, a small country on the coast of eastern Africa, to escape the war raging in his country.

In February, Mohammed and his family were granted official humanitarian visas through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) program and arrived in Darwin. He is now completing the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Charles Darwin University, along with three of his younger brothers.

“I don’t remember much about my country,” he said. “In Somalia, we didn’t have any jobs. There was war and fighting and the life was much harder.

“We have been in Darwin for four months and it is a very exciting city with many people of different cultures speaking different languages, so it is easy to mix with people and make friends.”

For 14 years, Mohammed and his family lived in a refugee camp in Eritrea with 5000 other refugees.

“Our camp was not made up of houses made of bricks like you see here, but tents with mattresses to sleep on,” he said. “Life was very difficult, as you can imagine, with everyone living in the camp, but it wasn’t so bad because we could still go to school.”

Once Mohammed has completed his Certificate III in Spoken and Written English, he hopes to enrol in a Health Sciences program.

“I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor,” he said. “It is a very important and noble role in society to treat people when they are sick.”

More than 700 students are enrolled in Spoken and Written English training at Charles Darwin University, each year. The AMEP provides free English classes for newly arrived refugees and migrants, who are eligible under the Department of Immigration and Citizenship funding guidelines.

Refugee Week will be held from Sunday, June 20 (World Refugee Day) to Saturday, June 26 and aims to inform the public about refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.

The theme for this year is “Freedom from fear,” and an event will be held in Darwin on Saturday, 19 June at the Jingili Water Gardens from 2pm to 6pm. For more information, go to www.refugeeweek.org.au.