Former refugee be­lieves in mak­ing the most of life and op­por­tu­ni­ties

Sunshine Coast Daily - - YOUR STORY - MOR­GAN MCSMITH

PA­TRICK Onek be­lieves happiness is a mat­ter of choice.

And peo­ple who are happy, can be liv­ing the dream any­where in the world.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what en­vi­ron­ment you’re in, you can pretty much live your dream wher­ever," he says.

"It’s more of a mat­ter of be­liev­ing you can do it.

"If you have a dream to live in a place like the Sunshine Coast, then it should be a place that feels like your home: a com­mu­nity to help you out, good schools to send your kids to - just the sim­ple things like that."

The Sippy Downs res­i­dent has come a long way in life – lit­er­ally and metaphor­i­cally.

His fam­ily fled Su­dan when he was only a few months old, forc­ing him to spend the first 10 years of his life in a refugee camp in Kenya where modern ne­ces­si­ties such as elec­tric­ity sim­ply were un­avail­able.

Not that those "extras" wor­ried the young boy.

Pa­trick smiles when rem­i­nisc­ing about his child­hood, his grin beam­ing brighter than his yellow shirt.

“You have to wan­der around and kind of look at things more,” he says.

“We had to go out­side to en­ter­tain our­selves.”

His smile dims for a split sec­ond, the only time in the con­ver­sa­tion this seems to hap­pen.

“You just kind of go into sur­vival mode, just try­ing to make it to the next day,” he re­calls.

Pa­trick's mum made the move to Aus­tralia in 2004 in the hope of build­ing a promis­ing fu­ture for her son and his sib­lings.

While Pa­trick’s heart re­mains in Africa, he ac­knowl­edges he has had a bet­ter chance of achiev­ing his dreams in Aus­tralia, and that alone is enough to keep him happy.

“It’s all a choice and I think that’s the big­gest thing peo­ple don’t re­alise,” he says.

“It’s a choice at the end of the day, whether you choose to be happy to­day or not.”

Ever the op­ti­mist, Pa­trick has ful­filled his hopes, grab­bing ev­ery op­por­tu­nity he could to suc­ceed.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing his Masters in man­age­ment at the Univer­sity of the Sunshine Coast last year, the 24-year-old be­gan to pur­sue his own busi­ness, Old School IT, fo­cussing on help­ing se­niors on the Coast with tech­nol­ogy ser­vices.

He says he is just do­ing the best he can with what he has been given, and is thank­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties on the Sunny Coast.

“I want to be rich,” he jokes, his smile still cov­er­ing the width of his face.

“No, that sounds cold.

“I just want to be suc­cess­ful so I can bring change to the world.

"I like the idea of solv­ing

‘‘ IT DOESN’T MAT­TER WHAT EN­VI­RON­MENT YOU’RE IN, YOU CAN PRETTY MUCH LIVE YOUR DREAM WHER­EVER. PA­TRICK ONEK Who are the peo­ple ‘liv­ing the dream’ on the Sunshine Coast? The phrase is of­ten used for peo­ple sat­is­fied with their life, and ex­perts be­lieve sat­is­fac­tion is di­rectly re­lated to happiness lev­els. Over the next few weeks in a spe­cial re­port, the Daily will ex­plore what ‘liv­ing the dream’ re­ally means in 2018.

prob­lems in so­ci­ety and com­ing up with cre­ative ways to fix things.”

Not only is Pa­trick a be­liever in him­self but he is also a be­liever in the gen­eral good of hu­man­ity, adding that no place nor per­son should be able to

stop any­one from achiev­ing their dreams.

“You can’t just wait for some­one to come into your life and open the door," he says.

"You have to ac­tu­ally kick that door down and achieve that dream.

“I started as a refugee and look – now I have my masters.

“If I can do it, I’m pretty sure any­one else can.”

Photo: Mor­gan McSmith

HAPPINESS FAC­TOR: Pa­trick Onek be­lieves happiness is a mat­ter of choice.

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