What a pleasure it was to welcome our good friend Abdi Aden back to BSSC today to share his story of resilience with our Year 11 students.

The war in Somalia literally arrived on his family’s Mogadishu doorstep just after he arrived home from school one lunchtime in 1990.

Displaced and lucky to be alive, Abdi aged just 13, fled from the remains of his home. He joined a group of over 300 refugees who walked over 700km to Kenya. Only five of that group survive the journey.

At one point on the journey he was taken away to be executed and yet, inexplicably, survived.

He returned to Mogadishu after realising how horrific the conditions were in the Kenyan refugee camp. There, informed his entire family had died, he retrieved his birth certificate as well as money his mother had hidden, and bought a false visa and ticket to Switzerland—unfortunately ending 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.

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

“Yes, I struggled with mental health issues,” he told students. “Yes, it was really hard learning the language. But I knew I needed to be genuine—to be myself

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

Despite the enormity of his suffering and struggle, Abdi presented a compelling account of his experiences told with warmth, humour and openness to questions.

Those who are interested may enjoy his book, ‘Shining’…. available in the BSSC library. YouTube has numerous clips and the SBS program, ‘Go back where you came from’ features Abdi too.

We look forward to his return next Monday when he will speak to our Year 12 cohort.