Isaiah was caught up in civil war when conflict in Liberia spilled over into Sierra Leone in 1991. He describes his escape from his hometown, trying to catch up with his parents in Guinea:
...you run, you don't even know where you're running to ... you're running for your life. We drank water that was infected with bacteria, all sorts of things, on the way, because there is no clean water, there is no food, there is no transportation...you are... running.
A refugee has no choices and can make no plans:
You have nowhere to cultivate food. Somebody has to give you food to eat.... The only thing you have is your bag. And, that’s what a refugee is…That’s it. You can’t take anything.
So, being a refugee – it’s not like being a migrant, where you have a plan, you know where you’re going, you know the time you are spending, and you know how much you will need to spend. You know the reasons you are going. Refugees have no reason. The only reason they have is, ‘If I don’t go, I will die’ That’s all. So, they go anywhere, because they have no choice but to go, for their own safety.
Isaiah and his wife Lovett were granted asylum in Australia in 2006. Now living in Victoria, he has a social work degree and works in the disability sector.
Reproduced coutesy of Isaiah Lahai
There's more to this story:
Lovet fled Sierra Leone with her mother and her sister. She spend 15 years in refugee camps around Guinea, where she met her husband Isaiah.
Innocent fled Burundi after an attempted assasination attempt on his father. He didn't even know what a refugee was when he became one.
Matter was one of the 20,000 lost boys who fled Sudan to Kenya in 1992. He came to Australia in 2002.
Reviewed 24 April 2023