Pheonix College year 12 student Sadik Mukasa was well and truly welcomed by the Ballarat establishment on Tuesday.
Sadik spoke in front of federal, state and local representatives at the statewide Refugee Week launch, hosted by the City of Ballarat at the Town Hall.
“When the fighting started in Congo, our father took us into the hills to hide. It was me, my brother and him. I never thought I’d see my mother and sisters again.”
Sadik’s six-year journey took him from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to a UN refugee camp in Malawi, and then to Australia in 2006, which he called a “land of peace and freedom”.
Before the Refugee Week event, councillor Belinda Coates raised the Refugee Welcome Zone flag, to sit on the central flag pole in front of the Queen Victoria statue across from the Town Hall.
“It may be very cold in Ballarat, but we’ve got warm hearts,” she said.