‘ I’M A REFUGEE’

KHADIJA GBLA, 29:

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Celebrity -

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.’

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