Refugee's stirring tale of resilience, heartbreak for father
LIVING at a refugee camp in one of the poorest countries on earth, Reech Mayen dreamed of accessing Australia's opportunities.
Reech was born in South Sudan 20 years ago, before moving to Kenya aged five.
Despite the move, life remained tough in Kenya with poor weather, healthcare and education opportunities.
"You needed to rely on yourself," Reech said.
In 2011 the death of his father, a soldier, from critical diseases would be a turning point in his life.
The young man made the tough decision that if he was to make something of his life, leaving was the only option.
In 2016 he left his mother and sisters in Kenya for a journey to Australia with his younger brother and older sister.
The well-spoken African has dreams of being a doctor to stop other people suffering like his own father.
"I don't want to let my relatives or friends die just like my dad," he said.
"Let me be a doctor so I can treat people and save people's lives."
Right now he is eagerly awaiting the result of an application to study medicine at either UQ or James Cook University.
Since arriving in Australia, Reech has attended and thrived at Ipswich State High School.
Last year he was the school's sportsman of the year and this year, was the vice captain.
"The education here is pretty good and the people in Ipswich are so friendly," Reech said.
"If I was in Kenya I wouldn't have achieved what I've achieved now.
"Teachers here are willing to help you."
After almost every day at school, Reech gets home and talks to his mother who remains in Kenya.
While she misses him and he misses her, both look at the bigger picture and to the day he returns home and opens a doctor's surgery.
"I will make sure your sons and daughter won't go through what you went through," Reech tells her.
"I want to make my mumma proud of me - proud of her doctor son."
As one of 30 refugee students at Ipswich State High School, Reech is a walking example of what refugees can contribute to our nation.
The 20-year old appears frustrated when asked about some Australians' views about migration.
"We are people, we are humans," Reech says.
"A lot of migrants come from Africa not because their country is bad or they're trying to abandon their country, it's because of war.
"A lot of people come for education.
"We've got dreams to achieve and we've got goals driving us and if you close your doors you'll ruin our lives.
"Open the doors for us and let us show you what we have... We will make your country proud."