|Source: OCC Australia - New Zealand|
The Christmas shoe box also contained a pair of slippers (flip-flops) which Raymond would use to take the ‘shortcut’ to school through a river instead of getting his runners wet. Danger along the longer route would mean that kids could not get away due to mountainous terrain so they would opt to cross the Senao River. This would often result in them getting wet all over and missing school altogether. Raymond would keep his slippers in his backpack so he could change – ensuring his school clothes were still intact when he arrived.
Though these gifts made attending school a bit easier, when war broke out in 1989 Raymond spent the majority of his life travelling from refugee camp to refugee camp. As soon as the conditions became bad he would move to the next one – and many milestones in his life took place around this tumultuous pattern; including graduating from high-school and raising a family.
Raymond shares about the painful journey and explains how eventually his wife was able to obtain a visa through a ‘women at risk’ program and come out to Australia with his youngest daughter, Alexandria. A few years later Raymond too was able to follow them with his teenage daughter, Winifred – who also remembers receiving a shoe box at the age of nine.