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Refugee who escaped West-African war zone among Queensland Day award winners

Recognition: Binta Lamin, left, and Annaliese Young were both finalists in Queensland Day Awards.

IF Binta Lamin could remember the first three years of her life, they might be overshadowed by pictures of her family rehabilitating from a bloody and horrific war zone.

The Year 12 student from Lourdes Hill College was born in Guinea after her mother, a Sierra Leone native, fled from the devastating 11-year-long civil war.

The war killed an estimated 70,000 people and displaced 2.6 million people, including Miss Lamin’s family.

By some miracle, her family were chosen to resettle in Australia as part of a United Nations refugee resettlement program.

Miss Lamin was just three years old.

“As I was young at the time, I don’t remember what life was like in Sierra Leone,” Miss Lamin said.

“However, from hearing stories from my mum about her life during and post-war, I know that I am incredibly fortunate to be growing up in Australia and to have the opportunities I do in life.

“My mother, Kadie, has endured so many adversities in her life, especially during the Sierra Leone war and our journey in coming to Australia.

“Her support, strength, and heart cannot be found just anywhere, and I am blessed to have her in my life.”

Miss Lamin has not taken her mother’s sacrifice for granted – she is a rising netball player and coach who was nominated for Netball Queensland’s Young Ambassador of the Year Award, and is also an ambassador for Best Foot Forward, a project initiated by Edmund Rice Foundation Australia that funds the education of underprivileged girls.

Her achievements caught the eye of her local member of parliament, Bulimba MP Di Farmer, and on June 9 she was named a finalist for the Bulimba Electorate Under 18s Queensland Day Award.

“To be recognised by Australia in this way is truly humbling,” Miss Lamin said.

“I feel very honoured.

“I came to this amazing country as a refugee and I hope I can give back to a country that has given so much meaning and quality to my life.”

Fellow Lourdes Hill College Year 10 student Annaliese Young was also named a finalist in Bulimba’s Queensland Day Awards for her role as middle school leader.

Miss Young said her leadership style was influenced by the Catholic social teaching themes of dignity of the human person and the common good.

“To me, a good leader does not only describe those in influential positions or those who are celebrated and praised but describes those who utilise powerful tools like empathy, compassion, determination, resilience and enthusiasm in order to make a positive difference in the world, whether that’s making someone smile or volunteering overseas,” Miss Young said.

Miss Young said Catholic schools could support aspiring young leaders by giving them opportunities to participate in service, assist in their academic achievements and offer doorways to the global community.

“Catholic schools are wonderful at providing support, information, contacts as well as resources to facilitate both spiritual and academic learning and growth,” Miss Young said.

“I wish to always live by something the principal of Lourdes Hill College (Robyn Anderson) once said to the whole school community: ‘Do not fear failure – fear regret’.”

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