Hope and achievement spring from the ashes of war
A South Sudanese refugee who endured a brutal civil war in her homeland and the tragic death of her young son has built a successful and impactful life for herself and her family, opening a business that employs other displaced people.
Amuor Alier arrived in Adelaide in 2013 aged 27. She had spent the previous eight years living in precariously in refugee camps and before that in a war-torn landscape.
Her childhood was punctuated by a bitter conflicts, first in which South Sudan was violently carved from Sudan in the 2000s and then in an internecine war between factions of the South Sudanese military.
“A lot of things happened. I grew up in a war, in conflict. Things got so bad that we had to just live in the bush – and later in refugee camps,” Amuor said.
“And these were not really camps they were just districts on the frontlines of the fighting. There was fighting going on all the time and gunships would attack us.
“You would be eating with someone or talking to somebody and suddenly a gunship would appear and people would be killed,” she said.
Amuor and her family arrived in Australia in 2013 and after working in aged care for several years, she launched her own cleaning business.
Amuor now has several corporate and small business clients, including child care centres, and employs around 11 fellow refugees from South Sudan, the Congo and Afghanistan – among them are two men who do carpet cleaning and lawn mowing.
But her business career suffered an early set back with the death of her seven-year-old son who drowned in an accident.
“It was tragic and I was devastated. It set me back and the business suffered,” she said.
But the need to support her six remaining children drove Amuor to rebuild the enterprise.
“I had to keep going because of my kids and because I wanted to give people opportunities to be employed,” she said.
Amuor’s drive to succeed saw her return to work the day after giving birth to her sixth child Rebecca earlier this year.
“The business is going well. We are picking up new clients,” she said.
Amuor is the matriarch of a family of achievers. Her niece is international supermodel Adut Akech, who helps out with the kids when home in Australia.
“Adut was at home with us in November. She is part of the family and very down to earth.”
One of Aduor’s employees Gideon is the father of Nestory Irankunda, a talented young soccer player who has just signed a $5.6 million deal to play for Bayern Munich.
She says coming to Australia has been a “blessing” for her family.
“Life is pretty good for us now. When I first arrived in Australia, I worked hard. After just four years my husband Deng and I bought our first house,” Amuor said.
“It has been good for us to come to Australia. When you come here there are opportunities to do things. And we are grateful for those opportunities,” she said.