I wanted to be a doctor since I was a little kid. My mother encouraged me. Even though she was from a rural area, she wanted me to become a doctor.
Born in southern Sudan in 1965, Matur Gak worked hard from an early age to realise his dream of becoming a doctor.
It’s difficult in Sudan to get into medical school. Out of 200 000 candidates only 150 people get accepted. So I used to study hard.
Matur’s hard work paid off and he was accepted to study at a medical school in Sudan’s north. It was this connection with northern Sudan that would later place Matur’s family in serious danger
There’s a civil war between the north and the south. We were part of the south and we became a target … The country is divided into two parts and you can’t access the other side without risks. If you go to the North you will be under suspicion.
Matur and his wife escaped to Egypt, where they applied for humanitarian visas through UNHCR. For three years, Matur worked as a doctor in a refugee clinic before UNHCR secured resettlement for his family, offering them a choice between the USA, Canada or Australia.
We chose Australia because we had a friend who came here in 1994, and he told us good things about the country … He encouraged us to come here, that it’s a good place to further our education and it’s a country of opportunities.
Matur, his wife and their two children, who had been born in Cairo, arrived in their new country in 1998.
It’s an advanced country. You can’t compare it to Sudan. It was lovely. My family enjoyed it.
The process of building a new life in Australia was both exciting and challenging for Matur. He faced many difficulties in pursuing his career as a doctor. For two years, Matur worked at a printing company before finishing extra training and clinical exams. After studying for two and a half years, Matur secured a position as a medical registrar in Western Sydney. He is currently studying to become a physician.
The job is advanced, it’s lovely and there’s good training … The technology is much more advanced, you can’t compare it. [In Sudan] the doctors are exactly the same, knowledge-wise. They know everything, but they can’t apply it because of the [lack of] technology.
Matur remains concerned about the members of his family left behind in Sudan. Since arriving in Australia, he has returned to Sudan twice to visit his family, and hopes that they will soon be able to join him in his new country.
It had been 23 years since I had seen my family. My father had passed away a few weeks before I left. My brother and his family are here now. My mother is on her own, but I’m trying to get my mum to come [to Australia]. We have a lot of extended family there [in Sudan].