Aduk Dau Duot’s story
Aduk Dau Duot came from Duk county in Jonglei State, South Sudan. She fled the country in 1983 during the civil war that broke out in Sudan.
As she fled, she lost contact with her baby son and her mother.
“When war broke out, families were separated. Fathers were killed, mothers were on the run. Children were left separated from parents. Many children were enlisted as child soldiers, while others ran for their lives,” Aduk says of the experience
She became a surrogate mother to many of those children and she hoped that somewhere, someone was doing the same for her son.
As she arrived at the border of South Sudan and Kenya with the refugee children she remembers the UNHCR officers asking for information about them and wanting to know where all the parents were.
“All I could do was to tell them that I found the children on my way. We all ran together looking for safety. Some of the children couldn’t even talk to the officers because they were so shocked and terrified,” she says.
Aduk stayed at Kakuma Refugee Camp for six years and worked with the children to help them settle in. She says a lot of what she did was counseling although she didn’t realize that at the time “as there was no such thing as counseling where I came from”.
The children could relate to her because she had lost her own child and she could comfort them and tell them they were safe.
Then one day her life changed forever with a knock on the door.
“I immediately recognized my mother and my beautiful little boy…..I ran up to him, to hug him. But he pushed me away and ran to his grandmother calling her “mum”.”
It took Aduk and her mother a long time to convince her son that it was no one’s fault that she couldn’t be with him and she had missed him desperately. Eventually, he began to slowly accept that she was his mother.
In 1999, Aduk was resettled in Australia. She now lives in Sydney with her husband and children, and in 2009 was reunited with her mother under family resettlement. Aduk now works was an interpreter for the Sydney South Western Area Health Service and has also been a key note speaker at Australia for UNHCR’s Mother’s Day Lunch in 2014.