When I stumble upon government housing projects in different countries, I’m reminded of how similar the structures of our communities can be.
Last Christmas during my tour in Australia I met Izzy, a young South Sudanese filmmaker who is aspiring to create positive change for his community. Tucked within the popular Fitzroy neighbourhood of Melbourne you will find the Atherton Gardens government housing flats. It was here we had a conversation about life.
“It was a very long journey to get to where we are. My community, my family, the whole country was suffering from the civil war, so we had to escape.”
Izzy tells me about his journey to Australia from Sudan, before the north & south split.
He met his boy Bangz at language school here in Australia, where they learned english and started using hip hop as a way to tell their story. They also both shared the common experience of having to live around Egypt before getting a visa into Australia.
People thought that when we went to Egypt, we were taking their jobs, taking their apartments and claiming their street. The Egyptian government started sending people back to Sudan. We were lucky to get to Australia.
The Sudanese community is still considered to be one of the largest refugee populations in Egypt today.
Izzy tells me that when his family got accepted to migrate to Australia, they didn’t have enough money for the plane tickets. He gave his mother money that he saved, which helped them to buy the tickets.
Izzy shares that when he was growing up, he didn’t understand the racial tension they would experience as he tried to adapt to the new culture.
We didn’t know racial issues existed back then. The language barrier, our colour, it felt like the police was against us because we were out late at night in big groups. We were just trying to find the light.
As first generation migrants transition into new countries, many end up feeling marginalized within the environments they live in. South Sudanese youth have been polarized by the Australian media as being involved in gangs. There is often little trust between the police and the south sudanese youth.
Looking out of his project windows, Izzy tells me that he’s glad to see that there are more opportunities for young people to get involved than there was when he first arrived in Melbourne in 2004.
If you love what you do, you should share it with the world. We need to develop more care to love.
Izzy is currently involved in supporting his community by contributing his time by making films and building dialogue that support initiatives like Be A Brother; a creative health promotion campaign driven by young African males who are looking for solution to better their life.
I shared the common struggles I experienced when I was transitioning into Canada as a first generation migrant. There was so much about our stories that felt similar.
Hanging out in housing projects
Hanging out in these housing projects, I saw a neighbourhood that looked and felt a lot like where I’m from. It reminded me that even though we may be different in the way we look and speak, we are all the same when we look out of our windows.
After all when we look out project windows, most of us are just dreaming about a beautiful life.