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Emmanuel Bakenga: Refugee and Employee


My Background

I have been in Australia for two years. I left the refugee camp in Uganda because it was very crowded, there was a lot of sickness because of poor sanitation; sometimes people had to share beds and drips in hospital because of the lack of medical provision. After seven years as a refugee, I was tired of watching people die of hunger and sickness, especially children, people with disability and women. However, that life experience made me the person that I am today. As part of a youth association there, we were given some land and started farming it, and I was also a community social worker. I now realise that each time we face our fears we become more of the courageous person that we would like to be; we are the sum of experiences that we encounter as we go through life.


My wife sponsored me to come to Australia. She resettled here three years before me – being married and apart was very hard. But now we are together, and we have a baby daughter, Duciel.

Working at Green Connect

The Illawarra has a high unemployment problem, especially for refugees like me and young Australians. However, Green Connect has made it a bit easier by having projects that provide jobs for refuges and young people in this community. It feels great to work and earn money. It has given me courage to know that as a new arrival I can work and earn money; having no job makes life very difficult.

As a new arrival in a new country you don’t know how everything works. At Green Connect I have begun to learn about Australian culture. And, I’ve got better at working with other people from different backgrounds. My English – my fifth language – has also improved. And working lets me support my family.

The first work I did at Green Connect needed no qualifications. I learnt about waste and now I am an Assistant Supervisor when we work at events. I work with primary school students to teach them about waste and cultural awareness, and I also lead diversity awareness training programs. I know the [culturally appropriate] foods that are hard to get here, that people want.

Although I can use my experiences from the refugee camp, my work is more professional at Green Connect. I think I will be able to take what I learn and help other refugees.


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