About the Show
Series 2Abdi Aden
Abdi was playing soccer after school in Mogadishu when the bombs started falling, signalling the outbreak of Somalia’s devastating civil war. In the ensuing chaos, Abdi didn’t know whether his house had been hit and his family killed. He fled Mogadishu with 300 others and headed for Kenya.
On the way, death squads hunted them. A group of teenage boys were caught and lined up to be executed. Miraculously the bullets missed Abdi but he fell to the ground and feigned death. He didn’t know if the blood on him was his or his dead friends’.
At times during the walk to Kenya there was nothing to eat. Abdi remembers seven days without food passing his lips. Some of the refugees died from eating a proper meal after weeks with little. Their bodies couldn’t handle it.
After three and a half months, the group arrived in Kenya. Three hundred and twelve had set out, five survived.
Abdi made his way to Romania where he lived for 18 months – most of the time with gypsies. In 1992, a people smuggler working in the Somali embassy helped him get to Germany and with fake documents came to Australia to seek asylum.
At 15, he arrived in Melbourne. Homeless for the first year, he slept in churches and mosques. One lunchtime, he was bashed by three men in suits in Melbourne’s CBD.
In 1996 he discovered his mother was alive and living in an Ethiopian refugee camp. He sponsored her to live in Australia.
Abdi studied community development at university and has been a youth worker for the past ten years. Last year he completed postgraduate studies in adolescent mental health.
He is married to the daughter of British immigrants and has three sons aged nine, six and four. Abdi’s mother lives with the family as well as three children she adopted in the refugee camp. They currently live in Melbourne.
The rest of Abdi’s family are either dead or living overseas.
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