Year 8 News

Rita de Faria - Assistant Deputy Principal Year 8

The College was fortunate to have hosted two young people from Burundi who shared their stories through song and rap. Mimi Mirka, a spokesperson and activist for women's rights in Burundi, alerted students to the plight of many women in her home country. We also had a return visit to the College from Fablice, a.k.a FLYBZ, who continues to be an amazing Ambassador for 'Jesuit Social Services', speaking, rapping and performing at more than 50 schools around Australia about the hardship of being former refugees and child soldiers and their 'joy' at arriving in 'paradise' Australia. This year he also toured East Timor for the first time, where he appeared at the new Jesuit school at Kasait. Fablice has recently been honoured with being awarded the VICTORIAN YOUNG ACHIEVER of THE YEAR. This is an amazing achievement and the first for a young Burundian.

Fablice shared his story with Years 8 and 9 students of survival in the civil war that affected both his homeland of Burundi in East Africa and Rwanda. He was orphaned at 8 and by 11 he was given a gun and trained to be a child solider.

"When I was 11, the soldiers came to my school and one of them asked all the tall boys in my class to stand up," Fablice told our students, "I was one of those tall boys and they gave me a gun and some bullets and told me to march towards the sound of the guns and to kill anyone I met on the way.
Luckily for me, when we got to the front I was chosen to go and buy some food and I got in a taxi and I paid for him to take me to the Tanzanian border. Even though I was very young, I convinced the taxi driver I was a good beggar and I had the money at home. I never shot or killed anyone."

Former child soldier Fablice was orphaned as an eight-year-old when his mother, who belonged to the Hutu people, and his father, a Tutsi, were killed as part of the devastating civil war in the former German colony of Burundi.

Fablice says: "When my mum and dad died, I lived like a wild boy on the streets, taking drugs and drinking. My life was very hard. I was on my own and things were very bad."

After escaping the military, Fablice fled to a bordering Tanzanian refugee camp in 2003 to reunite with his eldest sister, also a former child soldier who had escaped the civil war.

Fablice and his nephew began experimenting with hip-hop music as a means to express themselves in the war-torn environment. "I can remember a huge group of people crowding around an old television watching the movie by American rapper 50 Cent. That was our only exposure to music," Fablice says. But while 50 Cent often occupies his songs with "bling" and "girls", Fablice says he focused on the message of freedom.

"The kids in the refugee camp loved hip-hop because it was an escape for us. Time to forget how bad conditions were. There was no food, no water, sometimes bullets were fired into our hut," Fablice says. "I thought being a child soldier was hard but the camp was much worse. One bucket to use for drinking and cleaning. Even to get water we had to walk miles."

With deteriorating living conditions at their holding camp and unable to return to their homeland, Fablice, his sister, her baby and nephew were accepted as refugees to Australia in 2007. Fablice laughs when telling the story about his journey to his new home. "I had never seen a plane up close. In fact, the planes flying overhead scared the life out of me and I thought they were giant birds," he says.

They say they were "amazed" at the abundance of food and opportunities once they got here.

"We only ever ate meat on Christmas Day but in Australia you can have it all the time," Fablice says.

"I was so hungry in the refugee camp I used kill little birds with a sling shot."

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