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The boy who wouldn’t die

David Nyuol Vincent is a Sudanese refugee and Act for Peace volunteer who survived famine, war and 15 years in refugee camps, finally finding a new life in Australia. He now shares his story of survival with communities in Australia, inspiring others to learn more about the plight of refugees around the world and encouraging them to take action.

David Vincent sharing his story of survival with a community in Melbourne. AP Images Image Frame

David Vincent was just a young boy when he fled southern Sudan with his father as war ravaged their country. For months David and his father walked across Sudan, barefoot, desperately searching for safety, food, and water. He was afraid for his life and suffered under the extreme conditions of the desert. He experienced severe dehydration, malnutrition and starvation. Perseverance and determination kept David alive. Against all the odds he survived the perilous Saharan journey and crossed into bordering Ethiopia.

However, his hardships did not end there. Shortly after the crossing he was separated from his father and conscripted against his will into the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) as a child soldier. Although he was trained for brutal militia activity, David deems himself lucky to have never been involved in direct combat, managing to escape when the camp he was being held in was bombed. He survived the next 17 years without family in refugee camps; struggling against starvation, air bombings, and people determined to kill him and his people.

In 2004 David was offered a Humanitarian Visa and was resettled to Australia. Traumatised by what he had seen and endured, he went about the slow and painful process of making a new life for himself – a life away from hunger, away from guns, away from death. David survived horrors that most people would try to forget. But instead of putting his past behind him, David is determined to use his experiences to raise awareness and help other refugees in need.

“I’ve never stopped sharing my story in the hope that people will have a greater understanding of refugees and their struggles”

David volunteers as an Act for Peace Refugee Ambassador. In this role, he gives talks and media interviews and shares his story of survival with communities around Australia in order to educate, inspire, and encourage people to stand up and take action for refugees around the world.

“I raise my voice for Act for Peace who continue to raise these issues of refugees. I want for the wider Australian community to understand what it is and how it is like to be a refugee”

Sadly, David’s experiences are all too familiar for millions around the world. According to UN figures just released, there are now 51.2 million people who are forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations – the highest number since World War II. David’s story reminds us of the real people – the sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons – behind these statistics. He reminds us of our humanity, of our moral obligation to stand in solidarity with our global family, and his inspiring example shows us that we each can make a difference.

“My message is that when we talk about refugees and asylum seekers, let’s talk about them as human beings, as people… I think it’s incredible when you give a refugee an oportunity to be human again.”

Volunteer with Act for Peace

You are standing alongside some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees

Act for Peace has a long and proud history of protecting refugees. It started in 1948, when people like you helped Eastern European refugees who had fled the violence of World War II. Since then, you have continued to support
survivors of conflict and natural disaster around the world, and today you are making a life-saving difference in:

SYRIA/JORDAN: You are providing urgent humanitarian aid, including health kits, shelter, and food packages to refugees fleeing conflict in Syria.

ETHIOPIA: You are providing emergency medical care to refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, & other conflict affected African countries.

MYANMAR (BURMA): You are providing food rations, shelter, and training to Burmese refugees who have fled the 65yr civil war.

INDIA/SRI LANKA: You are helping Sri Lankan refugees return home.

AUSTRALIA: Right now, you are working with others through the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce (ACRT) to influence policy-makers to enact just and humane policies for asylum seekers and refugees.

About Act for Peace

More ways to take action

Remember someone in need through the Christmas Bowl.

By giving a monthly gift, you can help bring safety, justice and dignity to people around the world who have fled from conflict and natural disasters.

Give a gift that will make a lasting difference.