Col’s Chat – Locals Through My Lens: Justen Wani Nasona

Col’s Chat – Locals Through My Lens

Justen Wani Nasona

When you meet Justen, there’s an immaculate sense of calm and purpose. It’s something that would seem otherwise unremarkable if it were not for the knowledge that here sits a man who has been through more than most of us could ever imagine.

Justen Wani Nasona was born on a warm, sunny day on the first of January 1975, in the small village of Wonduruba, Central Equatoria, Sudan.

One of ten, Justen was – he determined – his parent’s favourite. He went to primary school and intermediate school and finished successfully. There was little to suggest his future would be any less successful. But then…

“In 1990, I went to a secondary school, and then war broke out.”

War, in any form brings a horror to the door of anyone even distantly affected. For Justen, things were about to get very close indeed.

“At the age of 13, I was abducted by a group of rebels who became the liberation army movement for Sudanese people. The aims of the group were to overthrow the old regime.”

A soldier in war at any age would be harrowing, but at 13 no one can imagine some of the horrors of Justen’s journey. Eventually, having returned once again to Sudan, he married Keji Justin. But the troubles of his home country were far from over.

“We agreed that we could no longer survive where we were but, because of the war, we needed to go to refugee camp. So, we took the long journey from Wonduruba to the Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya. We were there for four years. Life was not easy. But luckily enough, thanks be to God for his unconditional love for us, we survived.”

“Eventually, we were given a form to fill in by the resettlement commander. I was taken by surprise that it was for resettlement to Australia. In November 2005, we took a bus to Nairobi. The following day, we flew to Brisbane. When we touched Australian soil, I said to my wife, “This is an unbelievable miracle.” We were filled with happiness. I couldn’t believe that the community was so welcoming.”

Today, happily living in The Gap, with his wife and five children, Justen’s life is a combination of so many things. “I thank God for making me who I am today. My mum and dad said that my name meant ‘important leader’. They said, “We have seen wisdom in you; one day you shall be a leader somewhere.” These words have encouraged me, and it shows me now that my leadership journey has just started.

I have been serving at Bari Fellowship for a long time and enjoy its traditional Anglican ways of life in Brisbane. Now my life goes on with my family as we live and work in our new community homeland.”

Justen is a proud community member, and we are exceptionally proud to have him here.

Author & Photographer: © Colin Bushell / Colin Bushell Photography