Hani Abdile is a Somalia poet and writer. At the age of 17 Hani escaped the Somali Civil War traveling through Kenya, Malaysia and Indonesia. Finally she made the desperate voyage by boat to Australia when she was picked by the Royal Australian Navy, taken to Christmas Island and detained for an extended period in an immigration detention centre. It was during this time Hani found solace in writing poetry about the Somali Civil War and the crippling effects of detention centres. She is now a lead member of Writing Through Fences , a published poet, and is also an honorary member of PEN International and recipient of the 2015 and 2016 Refugee Youth Award. Her first book I Will Rise is published with Writing through Fences.
Hakim Noor is an inspirational young man who has already broken through many obstacles in life. A single child, his parent both died in a motor vehicle accident and was taken in by his grandparents. His grandparents then subsequently disappeared and he has no idea if they are alive or dead. He came to Australia by boat, and has made his way through the pain of his loss to be seen by his friends as a positive young man willing to take on any challenge. To that end he aspires to being a model and Bollywood actor.
Maria Salad came to Australia 3 years ago on a desperate journey by boat from Somalia. Maria spent nearly three years behind bars while just for seeking refuge.
"I was born and grew up in a country that you would see dead bodies in your daily life. You would see bullets and bombs flying over your head! I had seen so much at a very young age I didn't know peace ever existed somewhere on earth. All I knew was war!
A country where no one talks about feelings, emotions, holidays or their favorite food, people eat when they have something to eat and if they don't have it no one complains because food isn't the first priority for us - safety is. The only thing we would ask is if everyone is home and safe. Even when we have no home and laying under the stars and watching the moon together"
Charles Guo is a 20 years old. His family migrated to Australia in 2010 to escape prosecution. They were practicing Fa Lun Gong, which is forbidden in China. Charles is finishing his HSC at Bankstown Senior College and plans to become a journalist.
Nihal Mohammed is a 20 years old Palestinian who studies at Bankstown Senior College. A brave young woman with a Palestinian soul and Iraqi heart, her journey started when her mother decided to risk her life and her children to travel to Australia by boat. She will never forget those long dark nights on the black ocean when she did not know if she would see morning. Hunger and fear and the sound of the waves crashing are nothing to a person who was born in war zone, where death was everywhere. "No mother puts their children in a boat unless the water become safer than the land."
Mustafa is a young Afgani man who grew up during the war and lived in fear after being threatened several times by the Taliban. He decided to leave loved ones behind and hunt for a safe world. After a journey by plane and sea he finally made it to Christmas Island where he was detained for uncountable months. Mustafa has now finished his HSC and is planning to do a law degree. He hopes to graduate from the Australian National University and contribute to the Australia he calls home now.
Ali Omar is 22 years old. He was born in Iraq and is currently a student at Bankstown Senior College. He left Baghdad on 2006 when the civil war began as his life was endangered for religious reasons. Ali and his family traveled to Egypt and lived there for eight years, where he finished his high school education but was prevented from going to university. After being unable to do anymore in Egypt, Ali's father decided to risk his life traveling by boat to Australia, in the hope of a future for his family.