Flora Chol

Picture of Flora Chol

Flora was born in Sudan in 1995 and is one of seven children.

"Mum raised us on her own and really strived to give us the best with the little she had. I hold an image of her as a very proud woman though she went through many struggles. She was a singer and artist who used her singing to express her views," Flora said.

"I don't remember much of my time in Sudan as I was only five years old when we fled.

"As a youngster I loved Christmas, but I remember our last Christmas in Sudan was very sad because my mum wasn't there. We had to visit her in prison. She had been imprisoned for a short period as the Government saw her as a rebel who supported the SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Movement). The SPLM was Sudan's biggest rebel movement. Mum performed songs to support the movement."

"My mum was released and not long after my step-father was kidnapped and we didn't know where he was. It was at this point we could no longer remain in Sudan, our safety was number one. My mum packed up the family and we fled to Egypt".

"Egypt was a very different country—it was still a foreign land to us and was a real struggle for the family. I don't really have any memories of ever playing as all of us were working. I had to look after my younger brother and sister and I wasn't allowed to go school because it wasn't safe".

"It was during this time that we received help from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). IOM facilitated our registration as refugees and helped us apply for our visas".

Flora and her family were granted visas through the Humanitarian Programme and arrived in Australia in 2003.

"All of a sudden we all got new clothes and I remember driving to the airport. Mum then told us that we were going to Australia," Flora said.

Flora shared two of her favourite memories of her first years in Australia.

"My first greatest memory in Australia was when I discovered poetry at primary school. I had been going through a tough time. My school principal gave me a notebook, which I still have today. She encouraged me to just write my thoughts down, without structure. I am now a writer," Flora said.

With a passion for both social justice and writing, Flora commenced her Bachelor's Degree in International Development at the University of Adelaide in 2013.

"As a writer I'm passionate about social justice issues – I want to help people and I'm especially interested in the issue of women's rights and gender equality. International Development is characterised by this. I think as human beings we have an obligation to help people who are less fortunate than us," Flora said.

"The Dinka name my mother gave me is Nhyandiar, which means 'a girl who belongs to women'. I try to live up to this name. I am a proud black woman and I am proud of my heritage. Every decision I make is influenced by this meaning".

"The biggest hope for my future is to use Australia as my base as it has become a huge part of my identity. I want to first complete my degree, to publish my first full text which I hope will be a collection of all my poetry and I hope then to gain a Masters degree in Law or International Development."

"My interest in social issues came from my experience and my involvement in the United Nations Youth Forum and the South Australian Youth Parliament, which allowed me to see the world as a global community".

"I would one day like to go back to Africa to work, especially in South Sudan. I would like to start a not-for-profit organisation that helps people in South Sudan, especially women and children".

For now though, Flora is happy to continue her studies while also engaging in other activities to keep her inquisitive mind occupied.

"My advice to others, who have settled in Australia through the Offshore Humanitarian Programme who are thinking of studying, is simple—just do it. Even if it scares you—you won't know what your strengths are unless you try. When I started my studies, I didn't think I would go far. It's all about believing in yourself and believing in the depths of your abilities".

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