This is an epic story if there ever once one!
I stumbled on this ad for Western Sydney University’s most extraordinary graduates, Deng Thiak Adut. According to Upworthy:
In his case, as you’ll learn, even the word “extraordinary” reeks of inadequacy because … well, this guy’s just indescribably persevering.
So what makes Deng so out of the ordinary?
Well, Three decades ago, he was just an ordinary kid growing up in Sudan. Then, the war came and Adut, then only 6 years old, was among tens of thousands of children conscripted to fight in the Second Sudanese Civil War. The troop of boys marched for 33 days into Ethiopia, living off the land along the way, before going into battle against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
“Kids. Going to war. You know they’re not going to come back because they’re going to put in everything they have. We were slaughtered,” – Adut
At the age of 12, Adut’s life was nearly cut short when he was shot in the back during battle.
A stroke of luck brought a wounded Adut and his brother together. They’d both had enough. With his brother’s help, he was smuggled away from the conflict into Kenya. In a corn sack. In the back of a truck.
The two brothers found relief at a United Nations compound. In time, with even more luck, they were sponsored by an Australian family and granted refuge in Blacktown.
Adut arrived in Australia in 1998 and finally had the chance to start rebuilding his life. In his first two years in Australia, he taught himself English. He supplemented his learning by chatting with locals at a nearby gas station. Adut eventually earned his diploma and continued his virtuous march to keep learning.
In 2005, he enrolled in law school. “Studying for a law degree was hard. It was even harder because of my background,” he said. But he didn’t give up.
And on the night before his graduation, reflecting on how far he’d come, he cried until he physically couldn’t anymore.
“To be the first person to graduate with a law degree in my family, you can’t call it a privilege. You don’t give it a name.” – Adut
Now he wants to help make the journey to a life of safety, dignity, and free will easier for others in his community.
Adut is one of the only — maybe the only — Sudanese lawyer in greater Western Sydney. He’s been lauded for his work supporting Sudanese refugees both in court and in the community.
Hopefully, after taking in Adut’s story, you can take a step back to consider the bigger picture surrounding this one man. Because to learn, to succeed, and to leave behind a legacy of your choosing shouldn’t — for anyone — be something that’s left to chance.
Watch the inspiring profile of Deng Thiak Adut:
Watch Western Sydney University’s ad on Deng Thiak Adut:
Story credit: Upworthy