From training camp to refugee camp, Mabil returns home

While most players use the off-season to go on holiday, Reds' Awer Mabil has chosen to spend his time travelling back to his country of birth, Kenya.

Adelaide United's Awer Mabil, born and raised in the infamous Kakuma Refugee Camp, won over the hearts of Reds' fans this season.

While most players use the off-season to go on holiday, travel, visit families or rest up, Awer along with his older brother, has chosen to spend his time travelling back to his country of birth, Kenya.

The passion and determination that he shows demonstrates the gratitude he has to be in a more fortunate position today. Now as an Australian citizen, playing regular football for Adelaide United he-s had the opportunity to represent his country (as a Young Socceroo), the country that took him and his family in.

Yesterday, Awer departed on what will be an extremely emotional return to Kenya, to visit his family and friends still left in Kakuma, waiting to be granted a Refugee Visa by countries such as Australia.

Awer-s family originated from Sudan, but escaped the terror of the civil war, to seek refuge in neighbouring Kenya. His family were just one of many who have been forced to flee their homeland due to adversity and terror.

Many of us can only imagine the horrendous conditions of the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Awer recalls, “we used to make soccer balls out of balloons and wrap it around clothes.”

It has been 8 years since Awer arrived in Australia and while he has always had a desire to return he has been busy with his commitment to developing as a footballer. There have been two different camps for Awer, “The camps I go to here with the young Socceroos are a training camp and the camp back there where they have to fend for themselves.” Finally he has the opportunity to return to his first camp, which “houses over 70,000 people.”

“I-m excited to go back to camp to see kids and friends that I haven-t seen for 8 years.” Of all the people he is visiting the most significant will be seeing his Mother-s sister (Aunty), who is still living in Kakuma Refugee camp, while his ageing Grandmother lives in Nakuru.

He also explains how he plans to “take some club gear and soccer balls to give to the kids (in the camp), because they really don-t have anything.”

In doing so, Awer will be promoting the club name through his generous time and donations of gifts. His story is bitter sweet for many of his friends and family. While they are happy for his success and safety in Australia, they too are awaiting their opportunity for freedom and access to basic human rights.

Awer plans to keep us up to date with his journey, sharing photos and images along the way. His story is one in which we should all find greater understanding for the experience of many refugees who come to our shores.