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He spent his childhood in a refugee camp in Central African Republic (CAR), Meet Andrew Paite Kanga who has defied all means to succeed in life

Andy (Andrew) Paite Kanga is a Young Professional living in South Australia. He pursued Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences and graduated in 2014 from the University of Adelaide. He’s currently pursuing a Master Degree in International Development at Flinders University while working full time as an Employment Consultant. He’s also working voluntarily with the African Communities Council of South Australia organising annual soccer tournament named The African Nations Cup of South Australia.

Andy (R) after  his graduation
Andy (R) after his graduation

Andy migrated to Australia in 2004 as a refugee through the help of his older brother. Andy was born in Sudan but spent his childhood in a refugee camp in Central African Republic. In 2003, his parents decided to send him to East Africa to find a way to join his older brother David who went to Australia in 2002 via Kenya. Andy had to travel on a bicycle from Central African Republic to Sudan, then had to find his way to Uganda, then to Kenya, back to Uganda and then finally to Australia in 2004. There were many hurdles and challenges as Andy was still very young.

Andy went to Glenunga International High School in South Australia where he successfully completed year 12. He then received an offer to study Bachelor of Human Resource Management at the University of South Australia but that didn’t go well as he did not quite enjoy it. So he differed to Adelaide University and pursued Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences. His passion and dream is to help others; to see many disadvantaged lives being transformed; to give HOPE to the hopeless and to speak on behalf of the voiceless.

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Andy has received several Awards including the 2016 Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards as he was nominated for Multicultural Youth South Australia Spirit of Resilience Award where he finished a Semi Finalist. In 2012, he was also awarded as the Best Player of the Season in the Saturday Division One Soccer League.

In 2012, Andy decided to start a charity of his own called Kanga Foundation. Its aim is to assist disadvantaged communities in Africa, mainly in South Sudan. Due to the struggles that he endured before migrating to Australia, and due to the fact that he saw his parents struggled a lot to provide for the family, Andy decided to found the charity as a way to help those left behind.

Andy as a refuge then and how he is now
Andy as a refuge then and how he is now

“After fleeing from Sudan (now South Sudan), my dad gained employment as a teacher in Central African Republic while my mum worked as a director in one of the schools. We were well off compared to many people within the refugee camps. And for that reason, I started learning and practising a lot from my mum. My mum was very generous to everyone, whether she knew you or not, she could always give a helping hand. My mum could give out everything she had just to better other people’s lives. She was an idol, a mother to all, an educator, a charity to all. Her death in November 2013 left many devastated. Up to date, I still receive messages from many people around the world praising my late mum for the good seed that she planted before leaving us all. Students that she trained have become important figures today, with many working in NGOs”.

All the above is the reason why I started Kanga Foundation. I have been supporting many people back in Africa out of my pocket and sometimes it’s just way too much for me as I do have bills and mortgage to pay for as well. This foundation helps me to connect with people who have a generous heart to support the less privilege. Recently, I conducted an online campaign via Mycause to raise some money to support orphan children in Tombura (South Sudan). The campaign was shared more than 200 times and I managed to raise around $470 online while some donors donated directly to the account. The orphans have been very grateful and their lives have been improved as the money helped in providing more food for them.

Andy Kanga
Andy Kanga

Australia has transformed my life and now I have the obligation to give back to the community here as well as in Africa. I have been working as an Employment Consultant since graduating from University, helping people with a disability to achieve their goals. I have been using my life experiences to motivate these people and most of them have seen a transformation in their lives. Sometimes all someone needs is a tap on the shoulder and an encouraging sentence such as ‘YOU CAN DO IT’. We are all capable of doing great things, but sometimes we just need a little bit of motivation and support.

Andrew Kanga
Andrew Kanga

I am where I am today simply because of RESILIENCE. If I had given up in Uganda, I wouldn’t have made it to Australia. If I didn’t take my studies seriously and decided to party every weekend and put women ahead of me, I would have been still far from where I am today. The decisions we make in life today will have an impact on us tomorrow. Some people have a lot of opportunities in front of them but still, they end up making wrong decisions. Some have support from their parents while others are out there hanging by themselves. I was very blessed when I visited Uganda last year 2015 around May. In the hotel where I stayed, the gateman told me how he travelled to Congo DR looking for a better life but things got worse there and he was forced to return to Uganda. That’s what I call ADVENTURE. Don’t be afraid to take on big challenges. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone to see what else is out there. The gateman’s story empowered me. What I also got out of his story is the fact that WE SHOULD ALWAYS SPEAK OUT. Don’t be afraid to tell your story. It can either touch someone’s heart to help you or it can motivate someone else who was already giving up on life.

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When my parents told me that I will be travelling to Uganda (from Central African Republic), I got scared for two reasons. One was the fact that I was so attached to my mum and I never knew I could live afar from her. And secondly, I didn’t know English or Swahili and I didn’t know how I could survive in a foreign country like Uganda. But imagine if I insisted to my parents that I didn’t want to leave? Imagine where I would have been today. I was very young but I survived and made it. A lot of people in Africa need JUST a little bit of directions and support to be able to make it in life. I cannot compare Australia with any African country, but my one thing I’ve realised in common is the fact that no matter where you are (in a developed or developing country), if you’re not creative and you don’t work hard, you will NOT make it. There’s no room for laziness these days. Life doesn’t come with a remote, so we must get up and change things ourselves.

Those of us who have the ability and capability, who know how to turn things from negative to positive, we need to create opportunities for the less privilege. As children of God, we have the obligations to reach out and help those in need. Monthly donations to orphanages, hospitals and schools can do well for the next generations. We have people within Africa who can change Africa, but yet we are so busy looking for Western countries to come to our rescue. We Africans are very smart and creative, but if we don’t start working together with our brothers and sisters, and if we don’t stop competing with one another, we will always be the third world continent. Just look around and start counting the wealthy people you know within your region. There are many of them. Though I am an Australian citizen, Africa will always be my blood.

It is easy to lose focus and find yourself investing in things that are not really helping you build your futures or take care of your own. Distractions will always be there, but the important thing is to always have a clear direction and make sure nothing gets in the way of your plans. You are very SPECIAL, so don’t lose yourself in the process of valuing someone too much.

Kanga is also a founder of an association here in South Australia called African Youth Association of South Australia. I founded it couple of months ago to empower young Africans in South Australia. Website is under construction.

Andy Paite Kanga (Facebook)

Andykanga1 (Instagram)

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