Mohamad Kamara’s Speech to Beverly Hills Girls High School June 22 2010
My name is Mohamed Kamara. I come from Sierra Leone and I am a student at Beverly Hills IEC. I am here today in refugee week to talk to you about my experience as a refugee so that you might understand what it is like to be a refugee.
My story as a refugee starts when I was 10 years old. There was a war in Sierra Leone. Some rebels got many guns and tried to take over the country. These rebels were very violent. They killed many people, set fire to peoples’ houses while they were inside, and cut many people with knives and machetes.
Sometimes they took the children of families away with them and forced them to do terrible things to other people. These are called child soldiers and sometimes they are only 9 or 10 years
old. The rebels came to our house one day. They beat up my aunts and my sisters and they left some child soldiers to watch us and shoot us if we tried to escape. A man tried to help us but the boy’s leader killed him.
When the boys went to set fire to other peoples’ houses, my aunt took me and my sisters out to find a hiding place. Can you imagine how scared we were? Can you think what things you would take with you if you only had 5 minutes to leave your house? We hid in some trees until late at night when we saw a fire where our house was. We knew everything was gone so we started our journey as refugees. We had to walk for 3 days with no food, hiding from the rebels all the time.
We went to Guinea, a neighbouring country. The border security stopped us because we had no papers. This was because the rebels had burned down our house and all we owned including our papers. We stayed near the border because there was security there but the rebels came and attacked again so we ran into the bush. The rebels blew up the border with bombs and later we escaped into Guinea.
Then we lived in a refugee camp in Guinea. We stayed there about 5 years. Life was really hard there. We slept in a tent at night time all close together. We didn’t have enough food. I tried to continue my schooling in the camp but it was very difficult because the school was in French and I didn’t speak French.
From there we came to Australia as refugees. Everything feels simple and easy here in Australia compared to where I have come from. I want to continue my education and would like to go to University one day to be an engineer. I would like to be an engineer to build things up, not break them down.
Thank you for listening to my story.