FRESH START: Student Reem Kodi is thankful for her new life on the Sunshine Coast.
FRESH START: Student Reem Kodi is thankful for her new life on the Sunshine Coast. KRISTY MUIR

Sudanese family escapes hell on earth as refugees

FORCED to flee war-ravaged Sudan, Reem Kodi and her family were at the mercy of the United Nations.

They didn't know what country they would end up in, only that it couldn't be worse than the place they called home.

The Kodi family was living in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where Reem's father and many others were persecuted for being Christian and refusing to fight a Jihad war (a Muslim duty) against other Christians.

The Kodis moved to the Nuba Mountains to escape this terrible injustice, before fleeing to Egypt, where they were seen as second-class citizens and forced to work mediocre jobs to survive.

After initially being rejected for refugee status by the UN, they were sponsored by a Brisbane family to come to Australia for a "better life".

Fast-forward 11 years and the Kodi family of eight count their blessings.

The eldest of the six kids, Reem, 23, is living and studying on the Sunshine Coast and helping other refugees adjust to life in Australia, through Buddies Refugee Support Group.

Although Reem, who is in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Social Work degree, couldn't imagine a better life than the one she is living, she hopes to one day return to her motherland and help rebuild the area and assist the locals.

"Coming to Australia saved our lives," she said.

"If my dad didn't decide to flee from the war with us, he would be dead."

Reem said since Sudan split in 2011 into two countries - North and South - the North Sudanese government had refocused its attention and efforts to destroying and killing the people of Nuba.

"Currently my extended family are living in caves and under rocks for survival (homes, schools and churches are demolished)," Reem said.

"People are currently starving to death because it is impossible to grow food as the area is continuously being bombed.

"The government denies this is happening and therefore refuse any outside support."

Since coming to the Sunshine Coast for university, Reem has been embraced by the community.

She believes there is a real acceptance of multiculturalism in the region and that puts a big smile on her face.

"It is a really nice place to live," she said.

Reem has experienced mild racism while in Australia, but said she had been subjected to far worse elsewhere.

"In Australia racism is subtle and in comparison to what I have experienced, it is not bad."

Reem said being labelled a "refugee" didn't bother her, but what did was people judging her before they know her.

She said for the most part people understood what her family had gone through for a second chance at life.


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