‘ I’M A REFUGEE’
KHADIJA GBLA, 29:
Khadija and her family had to flee their home during a civil war
‘ WHEN WE LANDED in Adelaide, my mum, my sister and I just wanted to kiss the f loor. We were coming from hell and had arrived in heaven.
I was born in Sierra Leone and I came here at the age of 13. I didn’t choose to come to Australia; there was a civil war in my country, so my family became refugees. We lived in an unofficial refugee camp in Gambia for three years before my mum applied for refugee status and we were told Australia was going to take us in. We had no idea where Australia was, but we didn’t care where we went. My mum just wanted a place where my sister and I could grow up and achieve the dreams she had for us, without people trying to rape us or kill us.
Settling in Australia was a challenge; there were not many black people. Everyone stared at us, and at school people called me “black monkey” and said, “she needs to go back to where she came from”. In a day, 10 people might ask me where I come from. Australia is my home, but people want to make me feel like it’s not. Home is where you are safe; home is what you make it.
I’m no different to you; I am just a girl with a big booty, who wants to have a laugh and f ind a good man and create a better world. The colour of my skin shouldn’t come into it. I didn’t choose to be a refugee; nobody makes that choice, it’s something that happens to you. Every refugee has this hope that one day they will settle in a place they can call home and have a life free from bombs, murder, poverty, rape and slavery. Australia is a dream, and it’s a dream everyone wants to be a part of. We want Australia to be our home because we don’t have a home. When you say, “Go back where you come from”, where is that? We’re going to get killed as soon as we get there. Refugees are human beings, who, due to their circumstances, have looked to Australia to create a brighter future – the same one you want for yourself and your loved ones. It can happen to any one of us, so let’s not let fear win. Let kindness and humanity win. I know the people who have called me names are only a minority. The majority are kind people who realise what a beautiful country this is and welcome other people; those are the people who make me a proud Australian.’