Sara Shengeb



Sara Shengeb's story

My past was in a country where things are run harrowingly different, Eritrea. I was only 15 and in two years time I was expected to go on a mandatory military service and learn how to use weapons, gunshots that aim to kill human beings. What always kept me unhappy was that the only place I called home deprives it’s own citizens of the chance to enlighten themselves and create a better lifestyle, two of the many things I crave in life.

I am the eldest of a modern family that views education as one of life’s most important priorities. I had a fairly good early childhood, best relationship with both parents, encouraging relatives, good schools and generally good quality of life. I loved going to school, playing different types of sports and spending so much time with friends, for a child, that’s all one needs in order to be happy. However life in Eritrea never stays that easy.

Everything around me changed instantly after my father was forced to exile leaving us three children with my mother. I was only 10 years old and I was expected to deal with all the political tension that interfered with our daily lives. Nevertheless, I still managed to go to school but only to find the people around me that once adored me and respected me to look me in the eye and tell me “You are a traitor just like your father."

Life was ever getting tougher, what we ate, what we drunk, how much electricity we used, which school we went to, where we worked was all restrained by the government. I didn’t care about the political situation of the country or how it influenced me and my family, all I wanted to be was the happy child I once was. I stopped going out to play with friends as most of them were taught not to come closer or play with me. I stopped playing sports or being active altogether. At an early age, I was starting to be depressed and growing up to leave my family at only 17 for the army was making everyday life harder.

I always maintained a strong relationship with my mother and siblings. Few weeks after I turned 15 my mother finally decided to attempt smuggling us out from the country. After years of planing, going through so much complications in the process and nearly getting caught on the border ( NB. Immediate shooting if caught), we managed to enter Khartoum, Sudan. We moved to Ethiopia for a slightly better security and still lived with a sense of fear of being caught again and a hope of getting out of there to a peaceful place where we can build our family bases again.

Although we lived two whole years in Ethiopia putting up with the discrimination and waking up everyday to a greater uncertainty, it all felt worth it the moment we landed a foot in Australia. I am able to make my own life choices here without anyone obstructing and for the first time in a long while I actually feel free and peaceful. Australia is my home now and always will be.

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