George Fomba

My family and I waited for a resettlement opportunity in a refugee camp in Guinea for 12 years; my thoughts were plagued with the fear of an unknown future.

Our lives were in limbo. We didn’t know what was going to happen.
It was there I promised ‘if and when I ever left there’ to help rebuild the lives of others who had endured similar hardship.

I realised that if you are down and nobody is there to lift you up and restore your hope, there is nothing, you are dead until you are given life.

I always said in the camps that I would try and pay back in some way what was given to me. I want to help all people, not just people from my country or Africa.

Born in Liberia in 1978, I had a childhood filled with challenges. My father was murdered by rebels in the civil war in 1990 and, soon after, the family fled to a refugee camp in Guinea-Conakry.

This placed a heavy burden on me, who, as the eldest son in a family of eight siblings, felt pressure to help my mother raise my brothers and sisters. Eventually, I left the refugee camp to work in a photography shop and I sent money to my family in the camp. I felt responsible to look after them. Tragedy struck in November 2004, a month before my migration to Australia on a refugee visa, when my mother died in a minibus crash. She was returning from a migration health screening in Conakry, the capital city of Guinea, to the refugee camp. The crash exacerbated the mixed emotions I already felt about saying goodbye to my brothers and sisters to start a new life in Australia with his wife, Veronica, and first child, Edna.

I have since had two more children, Rogers and Vanessa, and have made a vast contribution to the South Australian community; trying to stay true to the promise I made all those years ago in the refugee camp.

I am one of the prominent Liberian community members, former president of the Liberian Community of South Australia, Vice Chairperson of Sport and Recreation committee of the African Communities of South Australia, Member of the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) and commission member of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission.

I have completed a diploma in community welfare work at Port Adelaide TAFE and currently completing my second year of a degree in social work.

I thoroughly enjoy helping young people find their way in life.

Seeing the smiles on the faces of young people is the best thing about my work. There are a lot of services available to help them and it’s a matter of making them aware of those services and helping them access them.

As a Case Manager at the Migrant Resource Centre, I support and assist newly arrive migrants on humanitarian visas to settle in South Australia from receiving them at the airport to their first accommodation and until they feel confident to move on with live challenges. This is one of the ways to say thank you to Australia for giving my family and I a better future. Yes!! I feel WELCOMED.