• The moment Jeffah saw his sister for the first time in 20 years. (SBS)
"It's important for refugees to have hope."
By
Staff writers

3 Oct 2018 - 10:12 PM  UPDATED 3 Oct 2018 - 10:17 PM

When Meshel Laurie and Spida Everitt visited Jeffah, his wife Nyanduk and their six children in their Melbourne home in episode one of Go Back To Where You Came From Live, he told the pair he was longing to see his younger sister who he was separated from during the conflict in South Sudan.

"I have a younger sister in South Sudan, in Bentiu," he told Laurie and Everitt. "I cannot stop thinking about her. I hope that, one day, I will meet her," he said. "We were separated in war...we all ran in different directions."

In an emotional moment in the Go Back Live studio tonight, Jeffah, who fled South Sudan in 1986 as a six-year-old, was able to reconnect with his sister Nyanhial after 20 years apart. 

As hosts Janice Petersen and Ray Martin crossed to Laurie and Everitt meeting Nyanhial at the Bentiu refugee camp in South Sudan, tears began to fall down Jeffah's face as he saw on camera the sister he hadn't seen since he was six. 

"It means a lot. It means a lot to me. It's been a long time," said Jeffah, clearly emotional during the live cross to the Bentiu camp. 

"I couldn't even recognise her," he added, reminding us of one of the consequences for families separated by war. 

The reunion started off rather bittersweet as Jeffah watched on as Laurie and Everitt communicated with his sister. Through an interpreter, the first thing Nyanhial asked about Jeffah was, "Is he ok?". 

Laurie told Nyanhial about her brother's life in Australia, his wife, and his children, before passing on a message: "It's very important, Jeffah always says, for refugees to have hope, to keep their hope."

The news of Jeffah, who settled in Australia with his family in 2008, was a release for Nyanhial.  "I've always been stressed about Jeffah," she said. "Now that he's alive, that is all I wanted. Now, at least I have hope for the future because my brother is alive."

The most compelling moment was when Jeffah was given his own earpiece to hear his sister's voice for the first time since he was a child. While the reunion was captured on screen, the separated siblings were given time away from the cameras to catch up over the phone. 

"That was really awesome," Jeffah told Janice Petersen afterwards. "She was really grateful, and I'm really grateful to you guys for connecting me with my sister. The only thing is still that war, that she's still there.

"I couldn't recognise Nyanhial, but she is my sister."


 

'Go Back To Where You Came From Live' airs over three consecutive nights, October 2 – 4, 8.30pm, LIVE on SBS Australia and streaming live at SBS On Demand. 

Join the conversation #GoBackLive

Catch up on episode one on SBS On Demand. 

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