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Refugee survivor Ilhal enjoys SACE success

Tuesday 15 December 2020

The challenges of COVID-19 are nothing compared with the dangers that Ilhal Abdullahi faced in a Kenyan refugee camp.

Cicilia Begbia

Web Content Display (Global)

Ilhal’s family fled the Somalian civil war via Ethiopia and she was born in the refugee camp, which was fraught with violence, tribal disputes, and a lack of food.

“It was very intense living in the refugee camp, with lots of tribal disputes. One time I was caught in the middle of a dispute between two tribes,” Ilhal, 18, said.

“Someone from one of the tribes threw a rock and it hit me on the side of the head. You had to learn to adapt and survive.

“In the refugee camp there was not a lot of food and we ate food that we had grown. We lived in mud huts and had to cook our food with solar power because we didn’t have gas.

“My dad had to work so hard, he had three jobs and he did everything to get us out of that refugee camp.

“When I first came to Australia it was very tricky for me. I didn’t know much English apart from hello, goodbye, and thank you. In Australia there were real roads, big buildings, and lots of people compared to the refugee camp. 

“I had a lot of trouble in my first schools. I didn’t understand what was being said and what was going on at that moment. After a couple of months I started to learn more English and make new friends, and after six months I could hold a good conversation in English.

Ilhal, who studied Stage 2 Biology, Chemistry, English, Language and Culture, General Mathematics, and the Research Project, at IQRA College, said she has enjoyed her SACE.

“Since COVID I have spent the majority of time at school. I’m the type of person that gets through things and Year 12 has been no different. 

“My English has improved and since I’ve been at IQRA College, Miss Bhatia has helped improve my vocabulary, grammar, and style. English is now my favourite subject, and Chemistry is fine.

“I want to be an ER nurse because Australia has given me so much, and I want to give back to people. I really like to help people.”