They fled as refugees, now they're helping others

SUDAN: Monica Matoc spent 12 years in a Kenyan refugee camp and is now raising money in Lismore for those still living there.
SUDAN: Monica Matoc spent 12 years in a Kenyan refugee camp and is now raising money in Lismore for those still living there. Cathryn McLauchlan

FORMER refugee Monica Matoc sometimes lies awake at night thinking about the people she had to leave behind when she fled wartorn South Sudan.

That's one reason she feels compelled to help raise money for people living in the Kakuma refugee camp.

"When you're living in a refugee camp, it's a very poor place," she said.

"You never know what will happen tomorrow."

Ms Matoc lived there for 12 years before she came to Australia almost a decade ago.

"I had three sisters living in the camp with me," she said.

"They are still there."

Due to very poor internet Ms Matoc couldn't keep in touch with her family, so a few years ago she travelled back to find them.

When she arrived she discovered many had died, except her mother, two sisters and two brothers.

"I found them still alive," Ms Matoc said. "I have four kids now my mum has never seen."

Despite unimaginable hardships, Ms Matoc always encouraged her children to focus on their education.

Her son, Johnson Maker-Adeng, graduated from the University of Queensland in Brisbane with a double degree in Science and Economics.

His story was told on ABC's Australian Story in 2013.

At the time Sanctuary Northern Rivers president Michael Douglas told the ABC that Johnson's journey was a moving one that spoke of courage.

"I think Johnson speaks of the courage for so many young people who've walked that refugee journey and I hope it touches the heart of many in our community," he said.

Ms Matoc's six other children are either at school, at university or working.

Her youngest is now 16-years-old.

Ms Matoc will be cooking a Sudanese-themed dinner on November 19 at the screening of The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon.

The film is based on the true story of Sudanese refugees from Kakuma settling in the USA.

The event will be raising money for those still living at the camp.

Dinner kicks off at 6.30pm at Dunoon Hall, with the film starting at 7.30pm.

Entry is $10 for members and kids under 16 enter free.

Topics:  fundraiser kenya south sudan

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