Under their wing – An inspirational story
Duc has been on a dramatic and faith-filled journey over the past few years.
His story, first revealed in The Magellan in the January 2016 issue, is about the love and faith that connects him as an asylum seeker with his new Australian family.
Duc fled Vietnam after attending a Mass at a private house in a village in 2012 which the police raided. His companion was taken away and has not been heard of since.
In many ways Duc’s story is now more positive, but the threat of deportation back to Vietnam has always loomed large. He believes he will be jailed if he returns to his birthplace. Catholics in Vietnam are often persecuted and returning asylum seekers can be charged with ‘disrespect’ to the government. This fear has prompted the use of the pseudonym ‘Duc’ for articles in The Majellan.
Duc arrived in Australia in 2013, aged 17, after a perilous boat journey. He was placed in detention in Darwin, Pontville, and Christmas Island but was able to access some education which he embraced whole-heartedly. While studying at a college in Tasmania, Duc met Peter, a teacher, and eventually became part of his family and the local school community. Peter and his wife Carol are parents of four children and grandparents of nine.
Duc soon became another son.
Duc was supported by the local parish and the Catholic school, as well as many of the people he met, including the archbishop, mayor, parish priest, principal, teachers and fellow students.
Testament to his strength of character and popularity, after a stirring speech where he spoke of his religious persecution in Vietnam and experience of Australian detention centres, he was voted 2016 college captain. Duc studied hard at school and embraced community service with great passion and zeal.
He had his head shaved for cancer; served meals to the homeless; collected clothing for Vinnies and participated in several other charity fund raisers. His Year 12 results were outstanding, especially considering English was his second language. Having been awarded a scholarship, Duc is now studying engineering at university.
He has always had a strong faith in God and when good things happen, he says, “God’s arranging this for me.”
Duc is a charismatic and caring person who, while having every reason to be worried for his own welfare, is more concerned for his family’s safety in Vietnam. Like most people of his age, he has Twitter and Facebook accounts but is careful what he posts to protect his family from retribution.
Earlier this year (2016), Duc had his case heard by the Australian authorities. It was reportedly a difficult hearing but his considerable contribution to Australian society was thankfully recognised. Many friends rallied around Duc to pray for him at that time and collect letters of support from key state and federal politicians, civic leaders and church representatives.
In June, he received the news he’d hoped for. He was informed by the Australian Government that he’d been granted a visa to stay in Australia for another three years.
Delighted by the news, Duc said, “I am really happy. Thank you for your support and for always been there for me. Now I can dream about my future which is a bit stable for a while. I’m working hard. Love and big thanks.”
Duc continues to impress those around him. His final destination may be unknown but he’s making the most of every opportunity. What is known and understood by his family and friends is the joy, faith and the care he continually shows to others.
The good news is that Duc is now working in Melbourne for an engineering firm after graduating from Monash University.
Image: Former college principal Bobby Court presents Duc with the Principal’s Award earlier this year. Photo courtesy Len Gay.