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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 November 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 NOVEMBER 2018 23 COMMUNITY South Sudanese distinguished aged carer feels like an honorary Greek Frontitha Care worker Koryom ‘Tut’ Nyuon treats the residents like his own parents, and wants to educate his young compatriots to appreciate Australia and do the right thing NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU Koryom 'Tut' Nyuon joined the Fronditha Care family in 2012 and has since been a personal care worker, one that the residents consider an angel. He on the other hand professes he is half-Greek. The South Sudanese man, 36, has a very interesting story to tell, having been through unimaginable hardship, something that makes his enormous contribution to the aged care community even more valuable. TUT'S JOURNEY Tut fled his home of South Sudan while still a high school student, when government forces violently entered the school taking all children above 15 and making them enlist into the South People Liberation Army to fight. He was one of 120 taken to the front line and tortured. Of those that were not killed or horrifically injured only 50 managed to escape. Tut, being amongst those 'lucky' ones, was targeted and the army came for his family. His father, a catholic priest, was tortured and never seen again. Tut tried to return and meet his family in Ethiopia, however, he only made it as far as Sholekole Refugee Camp, where he lived from 1998 until 2003. While in the camp, he helped over 28,000 refugees alongside him and was employed as a clerk distributing UNHCR donations, including food rations and essentials. His payment came in food and clothing, most of which he gave away. Tut became a mentor to the young children of another camp, organising fortnightly programs to encourage them to continue with their studies; he would even teach them himself being their sole support network. Following his cousin's resettlement in Australia, Tut was able to get adopted by a Melbourne family through a resettlement program in 2003. His first job was as a warehouse assistant for two years until he acquired Certificate VI in ESL (English as second language) back in 2006. Work- ing full time he managed to also get a Certificate IV in Human Resource Management from Victoria University in 2008. Committed to helping others in similar predicaments Tut ventured on to become a social worker, helping new arrivals at the Migrant Resource Centre in Box Hill and at the Brotherhood of St Laurence where he worked from 20082010. JOINING FRONDITHA CARE Tut's journey did not end there, as he continued his work as a social worker at the Migrant Resource Centre Box Hill until 2012, when he decided to move into aged care and started working as a personal care worker at Fronditha. At the same time, he pursued and succeeded in getting a Bachelor of Arts degree from Victoria University in 2013. "I hope to inspire more South Sudanese young people from my community to think about a career in aged care and especially at places like Fronditha that focus on ethnic communities," he tells Neos Kosmos professing his love for Australia and the Greek community. "Aged care unfortunately has a bad reputation," he admits, "but the reality is very different at places that do the right thing". "It is a noble profession," he adds explaining that in South Sudan, the lack of nursing homes means that the children become the carers for their parents and the elders of the family. The nobility of taking care of old people with respect and love, he learned at Fronditha, changed his perception about the industry. Seeing how Fronditha celebrates people's heritage he believes that providing culturally appropriate care for migrants is hugely important and aspires to see the South Sudanese community elders be cared for by people who understand the language and cultural sensitivities in nursing homes just like the staff at Fronditha Care do. Having been through a lot himself and being seperated from his family and especially his parents, in the faces of Greek elders, he sees his own. Even though he is very con- sures all needs are met to the point where he wants everyone to feel comfortable even if it means adjusting their seat by just a centimetre. Koryom ‘Tut’ Nyuon caring for one of the resident’s at Fronditha Care. nected with his local South Sudanese community by becoming the president of the Eastern Jikany Nuer Council of Australia and continu- residents at Fronditha Care goes both ways. Both Tut's colleagues and the residents see his as an unrelenting source of patience and positivity. “In my heart, I am now half-Greek. Greek people have become my family.” ing his mentoring work, he says he feels like "an honorary Greek". "It's my duty to look after them. I consider the residents like my own mother and father," he says while greeting everyone with a "yiasou" and "ti kaneis" while he prides on having learned basic conversational Greek to better understand and communicate with the residents. "I completed my placement at Fronditha Care five years ago, but I decided to stay because I love this community," he said. "When I compare my community and the Greek community, the culture is the same because they love their family a lot and they visit them a lot." FRONDITHA'S SUPERMAN The love between Tut and the One family member has stated that Fronditha Care is blessed to have Tut as staff, as he is a "Superman" personal care worker to all people he comes across on a daily basis. "I am not Superman, but I want to be a good man. I want the people I take care of feel safe, and their families to feel safe as well," he stresses. "I have seen all the stories about the abuse old people suffer in some facilities and it breaks my heart. I want to show everyone that there are carers like myself who have much love to give and who respect this job. This job I feel is very important. We will all age one day, if we are lucky. We need to think like the residents of an aged care facility. The elders deserve our respect." That in fact is true as he en- His colleagues, the residents and their family members witness his incredible attention to the care of each elderly resident and concern for their welfare; he has become an example of excellence. "For frail residents or those suffering from dementia, having Tut care for them has been hugely beneficial to their mental health and general well-being," says Fronditha. "They feel secure, loved and cared for, which has also alleviated anxiety. He has a knack for cheering up residents just with his broad smile and quiet voice. When Tut is on leave or sick for the day, residents immediately notice and ask for him, as they consider him to be a friend, even family. Family members also feel a sense of ease knowing their loved ones are in safe hands." In 2018, Tut was awarded the most prestigious employee accolade of the organisation, the Outstanding Contribution Award for his dedication and patience with the elderly residents of the Templestowe residential aged care facility, and his calming nature. This is in fact Fronditha Care's highest employee accolade as nothing matters more than being nominated by the elderly Greeks he cares for. "I don't want to leave Fronditha. It is my home, my family," he says, while his tone changes and his voice breaks with emotion. "I see myself here in the future, giving back the love this community offered me. It is like I am doing it for my own parents." BEING SOUTH SUDANESE IN MELBOURNE His daily contribution is not the only gift Tut has offered to his environment, he has also helped break the heavy prejudices regarding the Sudanese African community members by being not only an aspirational employee but a remarkable example of character. When asked about South Soudanese youths in Melbourne getting negative pub- licity on the news he is more than happy to comment as the president of the Eastern Jikany Nuer Council of Australia, the leader of his community here. "There is an issue with some youngsters, I recognise that. But not with everyone. The majority of my people here are like myself. Appreciative of the opportunity they have been given in this country and eager to achieve more and live a good, peaceful life." "Some young people have not had the right support network to teach them that Australia is a different country, it is a free country, but free does not mean 'we can do everything we want'. They haven't been taught the values which are fundamentally different to the situation in South Sudan," he explains bringing up his memories as a UNHCR clerk and his life in a refugee camp back home. "The government and the military in South Sudan have created a very oppressive state, but the whole mentality and social structure is nothing like what it is in Australia." As a mentor of his communi- ty, Tut deals with youths on a daily basis. Some of these children have come to Australia after having suffered terrible things and in some cases they never had guidance from parents or elders. "They come to a country with so much freedom - for them it is a cultural shock - and when some people say 'do whatever you want' they may get carried away," he says. "I am trying to change that. I am trying to help them educate themselves, teach them the values of this Lucky Country and how important respect is. It is important to create a support network for these teens. When these youngsters see what they can learn and how they can live, they want that, and they work hard to become respectable members of society. I teach them to do the right thing. That is the example I want to be for my community. Through my work here and this opportunity to have my voice heard through a Greek Australian newspaper I can show these children how their life can change and I thank you for that."
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