Deng Adut with students from left, Aislynne Boland, Salomon Lukonga, Frank Kabalu, Tom Adamson and Alasta Firkins.
Deng Adut with students from left, Aislynne Boland, Salomon Lukonga, Frank Kabalu, Tom Adamson and Alasta Firkins. David Nielsen

Former child soldier's vital message to our youth

CHILD soldier, refugee, lawyer and human rights advocate, all before he is 35. It is safe to say Deng Adut has done plenty in his life.

Deng visited West Moreton Anglican College yesterday, at the invitation of principal Geoff McLay, to deliver his uplifting message of hope to Year 10, 11 and 12 students.

"Part of my journey is to make sure children are inspired. and to see that adults learn not to expose them to risk or violence," Deng said.

"I had enough of an adult's life, I know that cruelty that is inflicted on children, adults never put children first."

Deng said in the modern age, parents must be parents again.

"Television and the internet have taken over lives, I am telling parents they must do better."

Sitting among the students were former refugees Salomon Lukonga and Frank Kabulu, who said Deng's message resonated at a personal level.

"I did bring some bad memories, I was born in a refugee camp, but I was lucky compared to those who lived through the war," Salomon said.

For Frank Kabulu, there were fewer bad memories, thanks to his parents shielding him from the worst events in his childhood.

"I came to Australia aged 6, but I have spoken to my parents about it, and their experiences," Frank said.

"But I have a really strong ambition to achieve more."

Tom Adamson said he would be taking away the message that persistence and determination can achieve much in the world.

"Deng's achievements would be impossible without persistence," Tom said.

Aislynne Boland spent time speaking with Deng, and had her own message.

"I have always been told to work hard and achieve, it stopped being a statement, now I have seen it in person, there is not a time or place for selfishness," she said

"I took in a whole heap today, you can be yourself, but we are on this Earth for a reason."

After speaking with Aislynne, Deng said reaching just one person was an achievement.

"Even just one person reached is a success, I know there is another me, they will carry that torch."



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