Fiston's Story

Published by: Emma Natty / University Of Queensland | 13-Jul-2016
This Congolese refugee came to Australia with little but his passion for the arts. He is now actively taking steps to make his dream a reality.
In December 2015 the Queensland Minister for Multicultural Affairs Grace Grace announced an allocation of $1 million of State Government funding for 128 multicultural events throughout Queensland in 2016. This was to help

Celebrate and promote Queensland's multicultural identity, increase community awareness of benefits of multiculturalism, foster community cohesion, and support equal access to opportunities by people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

["¦] This funding is an important way for the Queensland State Government to represent its attitudes towards multiculturalism, mark its commitments to creating an inclusive society, and solidify the value of Queensland in providing suitable host communities for migrant and refugee resettlement.

I had the opportunity to meet Fiston, a Congolese refugee with a passion for the arts, whose challenging path has lead him to Brisbane. Fiston is an inspired young man, full of hope, following his dream to get an education and use it as a contributing and valued member of the Australian art community. Here is his story.

[Excerpt from transcript]

"I'm from Congo. I travelled from Africa from my country through five countries. Congo to Burundi, Burundi to Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, by myself. I met with my brother and we went to Zimbabwe then Cape town in South Africa. From there I was sent with my brother and sister to the Tungogara Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe. I was in the camp for three years and six months.

I was happy there actually. I made friends and we talked about funny things. I still remember my friends because they are still living in the refugee camp. Life was hard though because I couldn't make money or get any job. I just had to relax. UNHCR brought the food for everyone. Each month we got 10 kg of beans, 7kg of rice, even the milk and sugar we got. But if your food was finished it was hard because you had to wait another month.

So now I'm happy and I just thank god because my Aunty helped me and my brother to come to Australia. Unfortunately, my sister is still there. I want us to all live together. I think about that.

I feel very happy in Australia. I study art so I can be higher. Maybe I can be the best one here in Brisbane from Africa. That's why I keep doing my art here.

Here in Australia if you can't study a lot of things it's hard to find a job because they are looking at your qualifications. I've already studied English and when I finish art I can study welding so when I apply for a job they will see I have skills.

I just need a little bit of money, that's enough."

Since this interview Fiston has exhibited work at the Vera Wade Gallery in Brisbane as part of the 'One World, One Sea' refugee week showcase.

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