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Matter Machar

Matter came to Australia as a refugee in 2002, under a project to resettle the ‘lost boys’ of Sudan. Civil war in Sudan displaced or orphaned 20,000 children. By force, many became child soldiers. The survivors trekked thousands of kilometres across hostile country in their attempts to find safety. 

Too young for a soldier – under 10 – Matter was one of only 12,000 to ultimately reach Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, in 1992. 

… so, in Kakuma life became normal…through an eye of a kid who has been through so many things… we were given rations, there was food. The UN provided us with equipment, [we were] able to build houses for ourselves and there were schools and there was some sort of medical care…so, life became normal, but it wasn't. 

When he arrived in Australia, with two other young men, he was overwhelmed. 

…meeting so many people, coming to a new country where there are so many things that didn’t exist in the camp, from running water and all these electrical operated machines, so many cars, tall buildings… using money, trying to operate an ATM machine and going to the beach which I’ve never seen before. 

Matter is now a teacher and has a young family. He reflects: 

… the fact…I have grown up without a parent has given me a strong feeling to ensure…I do whatever I can to be a parent… I have never had anyone call me their child it has given me a sense of responsibility, a sense of belonging. 

Wedding Day, 16 December 2011
photographer unknown

(left to right) Matter’s daughter Marnath, Matter, Matter’s daughter Nyawichar and his wife Nyajani on their wedding day.