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It’s strange how disparate elements of life experience consolidate to form clear paths. For me, all roads have lead to conversations, a fascination with the human condition and our powerful capacity for resilience and growth.
Recently I had the chance to interview former Sudanese boy soldier now criminal lawyer and 2017 NSW Australian of the Year at the Perth Writers Festival. Deng was reluctant to write his book because he believed there was little that was exceptional about his story. Taken from his family aged 7, he was marched to Ethiopia over many weeks as other young boys fell dying around him. Surviving seven years of brutality, starvation and several near death experiences, Deng made it to Australia in precarious circumstances, thanks to his brother John Mac. He only decided to write the book as a tribute to everything his brother, who has since died, had done for him.
Deng is an extreme example of someone not seeing the extraordinary nature of their story ( and I’m pretty sure he sees it now) but so many people I’ve interviewed have been reluctant for similar reasons. That others have had the same experience and maybe come off worse. These are the stories I love best. Told in the most matter-of-fact way, without embellishment.