A Nuer Mentor For a New Generation

South Sudanese in Dandenong

© Marion Cabanes – 8/3/2014

He voted for the independence of his country in 2011. He is also a recognised and talented basketball player. What most characterises Sebit’s life is his passion for helping youth in the community. Sebit, 20, works as a Youth Facilitator at the Centre for Multicultural Youth in Dandenong. He shares with us more about his passion and what has led me to be role model for youth.

Sebit, whose name means Saturday in Arabic was born on this day to a Nuer family. The Nuer people inhabit the Nile Valley and Sebit was born in the Upper Nile State of South Sudan in the Nasir County.

Sebit hasn’t forgotten his native language and he tells more about the Nuer traditions. The young Nuer receive facial markings on their foreheads, called gaar, as their initiation into manhood. Patterns of the markings vary from one subgroup to another and sometimes the practice can be extended to Nuer females.

The Nuer represent the second major ethnic group of South Sudan after the Dinka. Both groups share the custom of cattle exchange as a symbolic and economic value during marriage celebrations. This exchange to the wife’s lineage ensures that the children will be line of husband’s descent.

Sebit left South Sudan at the age of 10 and spent 2 years in Kenya before landing in Australia with his family. “I felt lucky and happy to be in Australia to have access to education”, he expresses. The happy times in Australia were accompanied by a feeling of pressure for his parents to settle in this new world and taking on the responsibilities of finding a job, paying bills and providing for those remaining in South Sudan. “Australia is a really good country that is taken for granted and here some people reject you”. To overcome this challenge, Sebit refuses to ignore the barrier imposed by others, “I don’t want  to be weak about it because nobody can stop me from who I want to be”. These challenges have helped Sebit to grow stronger and realise that some young people looked up to him. “I had to be careful and act as a good leader”.

Sebit has started a Diploma in Youth and he wishes to finish it to continue studying in psychology. Through his role at the Centre for Multicultural Youth, Sebit provides a place where young people feel like they have a refuge, somewhere to go to, to be accepted and heard. He is passionate about helping them, regardless of their origins. On the contrary, he learns from their diversity. Sebit simply sees future in this multicultural mosaic of young people.“They need to be listened to and understood. They are often judged and there are no facilities where they can hang out and express themselves and their talents”.

For the time being, Sebit’s daily life is driven by making a difference in Dandenong, and  he wishes to return to South Sudan to pursue this passion.

Sebit also holds close to his heart values that his family and Nuer people have taught him. He describes Nuer people as “brave, welcoming people with a good sense of family who provide assistance when you need help”. He further talks about the wider South Sudanese people in this audio message:

Isn’t the young Sebit a true Nuer upholding the virtues of his community in Australia?

 

Sebit, South Sudanese in Dandenong

© Marion Cabanes – 8/3/2014

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