In 1996, when Akuch Kuol Anyieth is five, her mother flees to Kakuma with her children, intent on finding safety and freedom for her family, while her husband stays behind in South Sudan to fight in the civil war. The family spends nine years in the camp, eking out an existence amidst famine, disease, unbearable heat, and chronic violence. Despite their suffering, Akuch never loses hope or her sense of humour. She’s a bright student who loves learning and does well at the local school.
In 2005, the family is finally granted a family humanitarian visa to Australia. They are on the way to paradise. But the reality of their new lives in Melbourne is complex. As Akuch’s brother’s behaviour spirals out of control, the family find themselves isolated and struggling with various forms of racism.
But Akuch is determined. She learns English from scratch, excels in her educational achievements, and tries to live the life of a regular teenager. Above all she does everything she can to help her family emerge from the bonds of violence.
Akuch Kuol Anyieth’s Unknown is a remarkable memoir. It’s a homage to the strength of her mother in protecting her family against all the odds, a story of sadness, anger, humour, determination, survival and love.
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