A former refugee came one step closer to his dream of becoming a doctor last week, when he started a course in biomedical science at Murdoch University.
Mandurah man Garang Kutin Duop said he hopes to return to Africa to work with the country’s displaced people, as soon as he is qualified.
“I always wanted to be a doctor,” he explained. “I knew it would happen someday but I just didn’t know how.”
“I want to help people and help those who are dying from hunger and disease.”
Mr Duop was born in Sudan, in northern Africa, but was forced to flee with his parents, Elizabeth and James, when he was just one.
The family spent many years living in a Kenyan refugee camp, before being allowed to immigrate to Western Australia five years ago.
The 20-year-old said his only joy growing up was attending the local school where he learnt English, history, science and mathematics.
“It was the same situation in Kenya as it was in Sudan,” he said. “There was hunger and thirst and violence everywhere.”
“We would hear gunshots and people screaming, even children, it was very scary.
“But I was happy I was going to school and knew if I studied I could achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.” Mr Duop said he has always been interested in helping people and hopes to go on to medical school on completion of the Bachelor of Science at Murdoch University’s South Street campus.
He said it had been a difficult journey getting to Australia but, when he finally arrived in Perth with his parents and six younger siblings, he knew he would be safe.
“My parents were worried when we left Kenya,” he said.
“We didn’t know where many of my relatives were.
“We still don’t know what happened to them — aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins.”
Mr Duop was 15 when he was enrolled at South Coast Baptist College in Waikiki.
He was a keen learner but had trouble with English, only speaking his native Dinka at home.
“They sent me to Mandurah for a year-long intensive English language course,” he said. “When I finished I went to South Coast for five years.
“My favourite subject was human biology because I still had it in my mind I wanted to be a doctor.”
After finishing Year 12, Mr Duop undertook Certificate IV in nursing at CY O’Connor as a pathway to university.
Since coming to Australia he has secured a part-time job at the Spud Shed in Mandurah, learnt how to drive and plays keyboard at his community church.