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YJA 2016 Intermediate Honourable Mention: A Journey to Remember

Sarah Kelso |  17 August 2016

My grandpa is the most inspirational person in my life because he ran away and risked his life to get away from a communist Romania to get a better life for his family.  

He decided to run away because he knew that his family would not have the life he wanted for them in Romania. “We had very little money and we were living in a dictatorship, which means that the president or prime minister has complete control over a country by generally, and in this case using force,” He explained to me.

When he left Romania he risked his life and his family’s future all while having no contact at all with anyone in the family for two years. ‘It was hard missing two years of my three children’s lives because they had grown up for some of their valuable childhood with no father figure’, he told me, ‘I wanted them to have me as a great father all of their life and when I missed out on some of that I was very regretful'.

When he still lived in Romania he said it was very scary and he feared for his children’s lives. ‘We would hear gunshots and shouting in the streets all the time and at one point your mum was kidnapped for three hours by a stranger and locked in an empty building’, he recalled, ‘The streets were not well cared for and were dangerous for my children.’, ‘I didn’t want my family to grow up there’. He explained with tears in his eyes.

This is what he told me the journey was like. ‘I travelled for two weeks by foot. I had to avoid guards and soldiers who were on standby around the borders of the country ready to shoot anyone who tried to leave. I swam across the Danube river when I was travelling through Hungary which was very cold. I then lived in Munich in Germany for two years before it was safe enough to plan legal trips for my family to leave the country as well’.

‘After we had stayed in Germany for two months it became apparent that we had to move because we weren’t citizens and we couldn’t send our children to school. We caught a plane to Australia and stayed in a migrant’s hostel for two months. It was a very little place and we lived with hundreds of other people it was no place to raise a family’. He told me, ‘We then moved to Sydney and lived in a small apartment for two years and your uncles and mum went to school for the first time. We then moved to Brisbane and got a proper home for us to live in and I could then get a stable job and earn some money for my family’.

I definitely look up to my grandpa because he is the bravest, most heroic person I know. He went through a lot to get my mum and my uncles a better life and I wouldn’t be here if he didn’t risk his life for us.



Topic tags: heroesandrolemodels, refugees

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