“I love Australia because of the freedom, you can follow your dreams here”, says Nyadier, a 18 year-old South Sudanese Australian. Three years ago, the young Nyadier all of a sudden started a modeling career at the ‘Miss Country’ contest. Tomorrow she will be one of the finalists for Miss World Australia.
Nyadier tells us what it means to be passionate and free to follow your dreams to be one day a role model for Australia’s multicultural youth.
Naydier is a proud Bor woman (subgroup of the Dinka people) who was born in a small town of Uganda and grew up in the refugee camp of Kakuma in Kenya for seven years. She describes her young years spent in Kakuma, “I had a good childhood because my parents made it so. I had fun to the point where I didn’t realise that conditions were bad there. I didn’t know that Kakuma was a refugee camp until I got to Australia”. She had been lucky to be surrounded by relatives and people from her native South Sudanese village, Palek.
Although her time in Kakuma wasn’t as traumatic as we would imagine, at the age of 6 she did experience war before she made it to Australia in February 2005. She tells that her 7 year-old angel guardian sister, Awuoi, looked after her during this dreadful moment of her life. “I’m so grateful that I made it through this, I want to tell people to appreciate what they have”, she adds.
What does peace mean to Nyadier? The 18 year-old quickly responds “it’s to be able to be happy without worrying about war coming up, about being killed or about being kicked out of a country. It is to be able to relax and enjoy freedom”. Peace it is and Nyadier has fully grasped and enjoyed it in Australia. What she has gone through helps her to break through many barriers that dark-skinned girls would be afraid to challenge.
On July 23, she will be competing as a national finalist for Miss World Australia. If she successfully makes it, she will become the face of culturally diverse Australia on an international stage. She will also prove that a cultural minority can achieve big things regardless of their skin colour and cultural background. Here is the chance for Australia to show the world that it is a country of equal opportunity where potential and talents matter. If she wins, “it will give me the confidence to believe that if I can go this far, I can go anywhere. I can show other girls that they don’t have to have long hair or pale skin, but to be passionate about it”.
Her ambitions are shaped by strong women like her sister, Tyra Banks and Ajak Deng who opened doors for other dark-skinned girls. Ajak Deng, the first South Sudanese Australian model, Nyadier says, “she wasn’t encouraged to do modeling but she had the passion to follow her dreams while supporting her family. In this industry, you need confidence, passion, to be fit and to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally”.
In November this year, Nyadier will proudly represent South Sudan at the international ‘Miss Teen‘ contest in Fiji. Nyadier is always looking at ways to contribute back in South Sudan. “I want to use my abilities to help my country. I also want to be a teacher and open an academy where young people can express their talents and practise their passion”.
The Positive Runaway is part of the 2014 AIDS Conference which aims to heal the world of the spread of HIV/AIDS and other scourges affecting today’s young generation, through the unstoppable and powerful forces of Beauty, Fashion, Music, and Entertainment.