Australia Day Honours: The refugee lawyer empowering African youth

A South Sudanese refugee – who arrived in Australia as an unaccompanied minor – has risen to become a local hero, and a respected leader in Australia’s African communities.


When Elijah Buol arrived in Australia from South Sudan, with no parents and almost no belongings, the most important thing he carried with him was a desire to change his life.

It’s a goal he has more than fulfilled – not only has he changed his own life, but now he’s changing the lives of many disadvantaged young people.

“Sixteen-years-ago, I came with nothing, only hope. For me now to get an award like this, it’s a testimony that when you have hope and an opportunity, you can achieve and flourish,” he told SBS News.

The 33-year-old is one of the 755 Australians who received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on Australia Day.

He was also announced as the Queensland Local Hero of the Year.

“The opportunity is there for those who dream… these awards confirm that Australia is great, and if you put your mind to something you can do it,” he said.

The Second Sudanese Civil War lasted from 1983 to 2005 – and was one of the longest civil wars in history, leaving more than two million people died from combat and associated disease and famine.

Among the victims was Mr Buol’s mother, who died when he was six. Her body was never found.

His father died five years later.

Displaced at the age of nine and living in a refugee camp, Mr Buol excelled academically, and earned a United Nations scholarship to live and study at a boarding school in Uganda.

When he was granted a humanitarian visa in 2002, the then-17-year-old enrolled in Coorparoo Secondary College, a school close to the Brisbane CBD.

“While I was in Africa, I was already an orphan. There were seven of us unaccompanied boys, and we all lived together,” Mr Buol said.

“It was shocking to arrive in a place with no family to support me. It was challenging but when you are challenged, you learn from those experiences, and that allowed me to settle successfully.”

Although many years have passed since then, Mr Buol said he will never forget the support his teachers gave him – which helped him become the person he is today.

“I told one of my teachers that I was struggling with English, so every morning before class started, I would go there at 7am and she would help me, not just with English, but to build my confidence,” he said.

“When you are challenged, you need to embrace the support that is there. Learning is about sharing.”

Mr Buol made the most of the educational opportunities around him – his qualifications include a Master of Law, Master of Justice in Intelligence, a Bachelor of Human Services.

During his studies, he worked and sent money back to his sisters – he had been separated from them as a child, and only managed to track them down in 1992.

“I went back in 2012, and it was emotional to be there. They didn’t even recognise me, but going back gave me closure,” he said.

Mr Buol believes his personal experiences have allowed him to understand the experiences of disadvantaged youth – and support from his wife, who he married in 2007, has provided him with the means to balance so many projects.

“When you have a passion, time finds itself, but I have a wonderful wife who supports me and helps me achieve these things,” Mr Buol said.

“When you know that you have support, anything is possible.”

He has mentored many young African migrants and refugees and established community initiatives to celebrate the work of disadvantaged youth who are bettering their communities.

One of his key achievements was helping to remove under 18s from Queensland’s prisons.

He served as the President of the Queensland African Communities Council, and the Sudanese Youth Association – but regardless of whichever title he held, his focus was always the same: to ensure African youth felt settled and empowered in Australia.

“If young people are not engaged, they lose track of what they are doing,” he said.

“When we empower disadvantaged youth, we create a better tomorrow.”

But Mr Buol believes fear mongering about so-called Sudanese gangs, particularly in Melbourne, is making the task of empowering young people more complex.

“When we link the crime of individuals to a community, that generalisation takes us away from discussing real issues,” he said.

“When we racialise it, we blend all these communities as ‘bad’, instead of having a meaningful conversation.”

When Mr Buol became a father of four, the task of empowering young people from diverse backgrounds became even more important – and even more personal.

“I don’t want my children to be treated as others. My dream is that my four children don’t have to fight to be seen as Australian, or to find a sense of belonging,” he said.


Panama youth meeting offers pope respite from scandals

The festive five-day meeting with an expected 200,000 young people from around the world offers the 82-year-old pontiff a brief respite from a torrent of sex scandals that have jolted his papacy.

Groups of young pilgrims have been flocking into the small Central American country for days.

Wrapped in the flags of their nations, many resemble soccer fans on the eve of a major tournament, except this is one event in which they will be shouting for the same side.

At a Mass to open the festivities on Tuesday evening, tens of thousands of young pilgrims stood to chant, “this is the youth of the pope.”

Panama’s archbishop, Cardinal Jose Domingo Ulloa, told them the future of the church lay “in your vision of a better world”.

Ulloa said he prayed the gathering “will be a balm for the difficult situation in which many of them live without hope, especially the indigenous youth and youth of African descent, the youth who migrates after receiving almost no response from their countries of origin.”

Tens of thousands of young pilgrims attended the colorful open air mass, near the capital’s historic ramparts overlooking the Pacific end of the Panama Canal.

Defending migrant

Caravans of Central American migrants have travelled north through Mexico to the US border since October, roiling a debate over illegal immigrants and President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall. Francis previously criticised plans for the wall during a trip to Mexico.

He used the 2016 World Youth Day event in Poland to call on conservative governments in Central and Eastern Europe to soften their resistance to migrants seeking refuge from conflict in the Middle East.

“Many of the young people who are participating in the WYD are immigrants themselves,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said, adding that Francis could be expected to speak out on the issue.

The Vatican bills World Youth Day as a chance for the pope to reach out to young Catholics who he says “can change the world.”

It is the sort of colorful event the people-friendly Argentine revels in, a world away from the strains of sex scandals that have rocked his six-year papacy, most recently in the United States, where priests and bishops in several dioceses are under investigation for decades of sex abuse of minors.

The pope met with victims of clerical sex abuse during his last visit to South America, to Chile and Peru, a year ago. The Vatican says there are no formal plans to do so on this trip.

However, two abuse survivors from neighboring Costa Rica have asked to meet with Francis on the sidelines of the WYD.

Michael Rodriguez, 38, and Anthony Venegas, 33, told AFP they sent a letter to Francis requesting a meeting but received no reply.

“We managed to deliver a letter to the pope with the help of another person. We told him that we would love to have an audience with him, tell him face to face what we have experienced, give him conclusive proof,” said Rodriguez.

The pope is expected to land in Panama at 4:30 pm (2130 GMT) after a 13 hour flight from Rome.

He will celebrate two open-air masses in Panama City, but among the highlights of his five-day visit will be a trip to the Good Samaritan home for young HIV and AIDS patients on Saturday, after the closing mass.

He will also take a short helicopter trip outside the city to Pacora to visit a youth detention center and hear the confessions of inmates, including one serving time for murder.

Source Pulse Nigeria

7 Important Life Lessons Everyone Learns the Hard Way

By Lolly Daskal

It’s better to look back on life and say: “I can’t believe I did that” than to look back and say: “I wish I did that.

As elders are always telling younger people, experience is the best teacher. But if you can take in a life lesson without putting yourself through difficulty–if you can benefit from someone else’s experience instead of your own–so much the better.

Here are seven such lessons that it would be great if you didn’t have to learn it the hard way.

1. Failure isn’t fatal and success isn’t final.

There’s a saying (often attributed to Winston Churchill) that goes “Defeat is never fatal. Victory is never final. It’s courage that counts.” Success has a way of ebbing and flowing, and it’s being able to ride the wave without falling off that the biggest lessons are learned.

2. What’s holding you back is the thought that something is holding you back.

Resentment, anger, grudges–these things will destroy your energy and keep you from moving forward. Turn them loose and you can free yourself up for great things.

3. “Nothing is impossible- the word itself says, I’m possible”

This quote from Audrey Hepburn reminds us to stay positive and hopeful–not the easiest task when the world is wrapped up in pessimism and doubt. Believe in your own abilities and have faith in your success.

4. The road to success and the road to failure are one of the same.

It may look as though your path is rocky and steep while others have it easier, but everyone faces obstacles and detours. We can’t always control the road we’re on, but the choices we make along the way will play a large part in determining how far we can go.

5. Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

If you’re waiting around for someone to make something happen for you, you’re waiting in vain. Anything good that happens will be because you made it happen. Experiences and opportunities don’t just come your way; you have to help create them.

6. If you’re not willing to risk the usual, you’ll have to settle for the ordinary.

Taking risks shows confidence–it means you are willing to learn. And the lessons you take with you can put you on an important new path. Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, success won’t fall in your lap–you have to pursue it, and you won’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe. The biggest risk is not taking any risk at all.

7. Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the pleasure of winning.

Many of the leaders I coach express their fear of losing or failing or underachieving, and I tell them their excitement over winning should always be more than the idea of losing. Your enthusiasm for success should be more than your fear of failing, so it gives you the focus and energy to do what you have to be to succeed.

There are plenty of other life lessons you can learn from those who have been around for a while. Of course, some lessons have to come the hard way, but let the experience of others teach you whenever you can.

This article was first published at Inc

Sports: Team South Africa win 21 medals at Lifesaving World Championships


South Africa’s youth squad finished fourth at the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide, Australia.

The fourth-place finish, among 16 teams, was the best ever result for South Africa’s youth in the history of the competition.

Every member of the 12-strong squad won a medal, as South Africa tallied 21 medals.

Team South Africa (open and youth) finished sixth overall in the combined Pool and Surf competitions. There were 34 countries competing.

Hosts Australia won the overall title and the youth title. New Zealand finished second.

Youth results at the pool:

SERC – Milan Erasmus, Alice Edward, Kira Bester and Tamryn McKie – Gold

Good assessments of the scenario together with good communication and use of available aids helped them secure a first place.

200 Obstacles – Calvin Coetzee – Bronze

Line throw – Milan Erasmus and Connor Botha – Gold

With a new world record of 9.17 seconds, crushing the old record of 10.65 seconds. Milan has unofficially broken this record twice before, and it was his dream to break it at this championship.

100m Carry with Fins – JP van Zyl – Bronze

200m Super Lifesaver – Sulinke van den Berg – Bronze

4 x 50m lifesaver relay – Milan Erasmus, Connor Botha, Calvin Coetzee and Juan Pierre van Zyl – Bronze

This was the very last event and they came back from sixth position after the third swimmer, to come third in this event – a really great achievement and an exciting finish to watch.

Every member of the Youth Team got at least one medal – in total they achieved 21 medals, a remarkable achievement!

Alice Edward (Girls Captain): 1 x Gold (SERC), 1 x Bronze (Oceanwoman relay)

Ally Chislett: 1 x Silver (Surf Swim), 1 x Bronze (Oceanwoman relay)

Kira Bester: 1 x Gold (SERC), 1 x Bronze (Oceanwoman relay)

Paige Horn: 1 x Bronze (Oceanwoman relay)

Tamryn McKie: 1 x Gold (SERC)

Sulinke van den Berg: 1 x Bronze (200m Super Lifesaver)

Calvin Coetzee: 1 x Bronze (200m Obstacles), 1 x Bronze (4 x 50m Lifesaver relay)

Connor Botha: 1 x Bronze (Board Race), 1 x Gold (Line Throw), 1 x Bronze (4 x 50m Lifesaver relay)

Daniel Jacobs: 1 x Bronze (Surf Ski)

Juan – Pierre van Zyl: 1 x Bronze (100m Carry with Fins), 1 x Bronze (4 x 50m Lifesaver relay)

Matthew Fenn: 1 x Silver (Surf Ski)

Milan Erasmus (Boys Captain): 1 x Gold (SERC), 1 x Gold (Line Throw), 1 x Bronze (4 x 50m Lifesaver relay)

SERC is a simulated emergency response scenario where the contestants have two minutes to assess an emergency rescue situation and respond by assisting – this is actually what lifesaving is about, and the winning team here – in this case Team RSA got presented with a trophy for this event as well as medals.

Source – iol

Sports News: Difficult day for SA youth at Lifesaving World Championships


Extreme weather conditions in Adelaide, Australia scuppered all hope of the Youth Surf competition getting under way at the Lifesaving World Championships.

And unfortunately, South Africa’s performance in the Youth Beach events and Open Pool proved as fractured as the weather.

It was a difficult day for South Africa’s Youth contingent in those beach events that were completed.

The Open Pool disciplines proved as tough, with Martin Binedell’s fifth place in the 100 metres rescue medley the best of the individual South African efforts.

World champions New Zealand and the European challenge dominated the medals in the pool.

Selected SA results


Beach Flags: Daniel Jacobs Joint 20th; Tamryn McKie and Paige Horn Joint 20th – eliminated in the first round

Beach Sprint Male female Paige Horn 8th

Beach Relay Male team 8th; Female team 6th


200m Obstacle – Johan Lourens 7th; Kristin Bellinghan 13th; Carmel Billson 14th

4 x 50m Obstacle Relay – Men 11th Saunders, Notten D, Binnedell, Lourens; Women 12th Bellinghan, Corris, Billson,

Line throw Men 4th, Binedell, Lourens;

100m Rescue medley; Binedell 5th;

Youth Girls Team: Ally Chislett, Tamryn McKie, Sulinke van den Berg, Paige Horn.

* Full results are available on

Source – IOL

World News: Indonesian youth boiling sanitary pads to get high

By Venessa Nyasio

A new bizarre wave of drug and substance abuse in Indonesia has left people worried and completely tongue tied thanks to the extent youth are going so as to get high. understands a large number of merrymakers have turned to boiling sanitary pads so as to get a temporary rush.

According to Dailymail, the teenagers have taken to this peculiar habit as it is a cheap and readily accessible source of stimulant.

The drug users boil either used or unused sanitary towels then proceed to gulp down the drink which has been described as bitter but highly effective.

They then feel like they are ‘flying’ and often tend to hallucinate after partaking in the unusual hallucinogen.

Some have even gone as far as boiling used nappies and drinking the liquid.

A teen who is a loyal user of the new drug said the pad first needs to be unwrapped then dipped in boiling water for an hour or so.

It is then left to cool after which the sanitary towel is squeezed till all the liquid pours out of it.

The teens then proceed to drink the water which leaves them inebriated.

“The used pads they took from the trash were put in boiling water. After it cooled down, they drank it together,” Senior Commander Suprinarto, head of the Indonesian National Drug Agency said.

Source – Tuko