The West Australian - - TODAY - Jessie Pa­pain

Hav­ing fled war-torn South Su­dan as a child, Lueth Garang Guot has seen things in her 23 years that she wouldn’t wish on her worst en­emy. She ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 2005 deeply trau­ma­tised and suf­fered de­pres­sion for years be­fore seek­ing help.

But Guot has man­aged to turn her sit­u­a­tion around, study­ing ed­u­ca­tion in a bid to men­tor and sup­port other youths. And this week she was recog­nised for her fight­ing spirit when she was named Miss Africa Perth 2017.

Guot told AAA she knew her dif­fi­cult past made her the per­son she is today.

“As a kid you don’t re­ally know what is go­ing on but there was a lot of con­flict,” she said of her child­hood in Africa.

“I heard gun­shots, noises like drums, and there were times when we just had to leave with­out pack­ing our stuff.

“I was re­ally trau­ma­tised when I ar­rived here and I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

“Then I started seek­ing coun­selling and I be­gan to un­der­stand that it was be­cause of what I had seen.”

Guot wants to use her new-found pro­file as Miss Africa Perth as a plat­form to speak out on is­sues she is pas­sion­ate about, which in­cludes send­ing ed­u­ca­tional sup­plies to South Su­danese refugees.

“There is a new refugee camp in Uganda where many peo­ple from South Su­dan have gone,” she said. “There are so many or­phans there. My dad was an or­phan and he told me how he strug­gled with ed­u­ca­tion so I want to start pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tional re­sources such as books and pens.”

Guot’s pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion has also led her to study teach­ing, which she will com­plete at the end of the year.

“When I was at the camp I used to sit un­der a tree try­ing to learn and when I came here I didn’t know English. I wanted to do teach­ing be­cause I can make these kids aware that they can do any­thing they want to do.”

‘I can make these kids aware that they can do any­thing they want to do.’

Pic­ture: Justin Ben­son-Cooper

Lueth Garang Guot is Miss Africa Perth 2017.

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