Today BSSC students and staff had the pleasure of welcoming motivational speaker and youth worker, Abdi Aden, back to the college to share his powerful message of resilience.

Year 11 Literacy students listened with hushed respect as Abdi described what it was like growing up in Mogadishu, followed by his experiences of Somalia’s vicious civil war.

When the war hit in 1990, Abdi’s world fell apart. He lost his best friend in an explosion and was torn from his family, who he presumed were dead. Abdi was only 13 years old.

Fleeing from the town he had once lived so happily in, the boy joined around 300 others and made the long trek to Kenya towards safety.

Along the way, Abdi was hunted by death squads and was shot four times. Amazingly, he survived, as the bullets went straight through him. Every single day, Abdi and his companions faced violence, danger and starvation.

After almost three months, they arrived at a refugee camp in Kenya. Of the group he had originally set out with, only five had survived.

Abdi returned to Mogadishu after realising how horrific the conditions were in the camp. There, informed his entire family had died, he retrieved his birth certificate as well as money his mother had hidden, and bought a visa and ticket to Switzerland—and ended up in Bucharest, Romania, right in the midst of the Bosnian war.

After a terrifying ordeal filled with insecurity and danger, Abdi arrived in Melbourne as a lone 15-year-old refugee, where he used his strength and the kindness of others to start a new chapter of his life.

Since coming to Australia, Abdi has embraced every opportunity that has come his way. He is now a university-educated author and motivational speaker focused on using his experiences to encourage young people and adults to do the same.

His story of survival and resilience inspired all who had the privilege of listening to him today.

“I’m here to tell you my story and how one person can make a difference,” said Abdi. “We can all become influencers in our community.”

The speaker, with his trademark warmth and sense of humour, shone a light on his experiences of arriving in Australia and working hard to get to where he is today.

“Australia will give you a ladder to climb as high as you like,” he said. “Make sure you do not wait for the elevator.”

Abdi’s book, ‘Shining’, is available to borrow from the BSSC library.