Moving Truths: Rediete Aborete G Messkel
The Moving Truths series showcases pieces of writing by Faculty of Arts students on the topic of Global Migration.
In 2019, the Faculty of Arts ran a writing competition related to ‘Hard Truths’, an exhibition of prize-winning photography from The New York Times. Students wrote creative and journalistic pieces responding to the following questions: 'What has your life experience and the experience of those around you taught you about global migration? What needs to change?' Moving Truths, a new online series, showcases student entries from the competition, alongside profiles of each student author. Explore Moving Truths to learn more about our global community and discover the powerful stories our students have to tell.
Five Quick Questions with Rediete
Juris Doctor student Rediete Aborete G Messkel submitted a piece called "I Will Never be a Refugee" recounting her parents' experience seeking asylum in Australia 25 years ago. Get to know a bit more about Rediete below, and scroll down to read her competition entry.
Where would you like to travel? "After the lock down, I would love to go and visit my family in Ethiopia. I would also love to go back to New York City."
Of the places you've lived, which is your favourite? "I have only ever lived in Melbourne, and I love it here!"
Who or what inspires you? "My parents inspire me. Not only with the story of their past, but also by the way that they lives their lives everyday."
What are you studying or working on right now? "I am in the final year of my Juris Doctor at the Melbourne Law School."
How are you coping during the COVID-19 lockdown? "It's a big adjustment, but I am enjoying spending time with my family and my dog and cat. I am thinking of those who are feeling isolated at the moment and I encourage everyone to reach out to those who are alone at this time."
"I Will Never be a Refugee" by Rediete Aborete G Messkel
I am the child of refugees but I will never be a refugee.
The amount of years that I have spent working towards my Juris Doctor equates to the amount of years that my parents fled and sought asylum. Running for their lives. Running from the horror of a cruel and punishing communist regime. There is much irony in the fact that they are running and yet they are still frozen in time.
My grandfather was a single parent of ten children. The Derg, the communist regime that terrorised Ethiopians for two decades, captured my grandfather and put him in prison. He soon died, leaving ten orphans behind. My father’s only goal was to protect his siblings. They had faced too much pain already. Having lost a mother and father before the youngest had even turned ten.
My father recalls sunrises being met with bodies lining the streets. Guards demanding families pay for the bullets that killed their children. When my father was targeted he had to flee. His family could not take any more loss.
While my father sought asylum, he heard constantly of the mayhem of his homeland. The despair of his family. As the conflict escalated back home, my father struggled with the internal conflict, of leaving his family behind.
But this is not a story of pain. This is not a story of despair. This is a story of hope. My story is there for those who are frozen.
For my father and mother had hope, even when the life they worked towards was being shattered every day. Even when they sat on the floor in an empty one room flat in Footscray, filled with nothing but a mattress and desolation, my parents had hope that the son they brought, and the daughter on the way, would never be refugees.
My parents worked hard. They put their heart and soul into building a new destiny for me. However, their journey is a patchwork of remarkable Australians that helped them along the way. Global migration is isolating. You are torn from your family, your culture and your identity. You become a number, a statistic, an issue, a challenge for the western world. These Australians became family. They helped build my parents up, gave them a chance to push against this adversity that destroyed the path they were on.
There are many things that can be changed when it comes to migration. It is a complex system riddled with barriers. However, we should never forget the power of kindness and giving people a go. As a society we need to reach out more often to those who are isolated and frozen in what seems like a never ending limbo. The migration story doesn’t stop once a visa is granted, it continues through generations.
Twenty-five years ago, my parents were granted asylum in Australia. Last year, my mother was awarded the Order of Australia (AM).
I am the child of refugees and I will never be a refugee.