International Women's Day Feature: Prudence Melom

Edda: What’s your name and what do you get up to?

Prudence: My name is Prudence, I am a founder of E-raced, a not for profit organisation based in Toowoomba. I’m also a final year law student.

E: Tell me a little more about your story. Why did you start E-Raced?

P: I’m originally from Chad, which is central Africa, but I have been living in Australia, specifically Toowoomba since 2007. I arrived here with my family as refugees. Going to school, I just felt like people didn’t really understand why we’re here. My family and I experienced racism because we couldn’t speak english and our skin was a little darker. I started E-Raced, a not-for-profit organisation that travels to schools in rural and regional areas, educating young people on refugees and migrants.

We educate through story-telling. We share our stories and our journeys. We become human libraries and give them the face to face interaction.

If what it takes is for them to touch my hair, then you know why not. It’s just creating a better understanding through education. I’m also a law student. I’m in my final year, day-to-day you’ll find my me studying or working.

E: How old were you when you left Chad?

P: I was 12. I left my country of Chad when I was four years old, lived in a refugee camp for seven years before finally coming to Australia.

E: What was like living in a refugee camp for seven years?

P: You know, it wasn’t easy. We didn’t have access to clean water or shelter, which are things that we may take for granted here. But did we had each other. I had my mother and my father and siblings. Together we held our hope that one day we will eventually be accepted into a country. That country turned out to be Australia, seven years later.

E: What was the journey like coming from Chad to Australia?

P: It was my first time to even get on a flight. It was a little bit rocky, but it was great! Australia is a totally different country. We dealt with jetlag and as you can imagine language was an issue. It was challenging for the first few months, but rewarding in the end.

E: Having settled into Toowoomba, have you managed to bring a bit of your culture to Toowoomba and find commonalities in other people who have similar experiences?

P: Building life in Toowoomba has definitely opened many doors and opportunities for me. Toowoomba is a very multicultural place, I’ve definitely definitely met a lot of people. Whether they are from an African country, India or China we’ve got it all in Toowoomba. It’s great! I believe that because Toowoomba is so diverse, it creates a better place. You feel like you’re not alone and can call it home.

E: When you were younger, what did you dream of becoming?

P: When I was younger, I dreamt of becoming a Journalist. That has changed as I’m now working towards becoming a lawyer.

E: Did you think anything would get in the way of you achieving that?

P: I did think that being a female in an African country like Chad would stand in my way of becoming a journalist or a lawyer.

Now that I’m in Australia, nothing can stand in my way of becoming journalist or a lawyer. So, watch out!

E: How do you see that dream today? Has it changed?

P: Well, my dream of becoming a journalist has definitely changed a little bit, based on my experiences growing up. My dream hasn’t changed that much because I am still using my organisation to share stories, and that is in the same line as being a journalist, but I’m just taking it a little further, by being an advocate for equality and doing that through law.

E: What are you most excited about for your future?

P: I’m excited to fight racism and to embrace Australia’s diversity and multiculturalism and to just let everyone know that we all come from different walks of life, but we are all the same. That’s what I’m excited about.