Former Sudanese refugee Anna Kothea and her three-year-old son Mayen Dhieu (pictured) were all smiles after becoming Australian citizens at Lismore City Councils Australia Day celebrations. Anna and her children were among 31 people who officially became citizens and the ceremony was unusual for the high number of people from non-European backgrounds countries such as Mozambique, Kenya, Sudan, Ecuador, India, the Philippines and China. Anna, 26, and her three children were among six Sudanese families which were re-settled in Lismore a few years ago with the help of Sanctuary Northern Rivers (SNR), a not-for-profit organisation which helps displaced Africans find refuge on the North Coast. Annas long journey to Australia began in 1992 when she fled her small Sudanese village after it was attacked by rebel forces and she was separated from her family. She fled with her five-year-old brother Tito and together they walked alone across the harsh Sudanese desert for 40 days living off leaves and roots until they crossed the border into Ethiopia. After several years in a refugee camp, they were again forced to flee and walked to Kenya, spending the next 11 years there living in temporary dwellings before SNR secured Australian visas for Tito, Anna and her family and they flew to Australia shortly afterwards.
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