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Morwell teenager Kudamba Abaas has been announced a winner of the national ABC Heywire storytelling competition.

Almost 700 entries were received from young people aged 16 to 22, who wanted to share their stories and make a difference in their communities.

In February, Kudamba and the 37 other winners will attend the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra, when the winners will meet with Members of Parliament and community leaders to develop new ideas to strengthen their communities.

The winners painted a diverse picture of Australia. Their stories range from fleeing a war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and finding a home in Mount Gambier; to describing the hectic pace of harvest time on the family farm; to rebuilding the Dingo Fence in the outback; and growing up LGBT+ in the country.

Kudamba’s story covered his move to Australia from Sudan. He moved to Morwell 10 years ago: “I met new friends and I like this country a lot. My goal is to be happy and to make other people happy.”

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said Heywire was a fantastic initiative that the Government was proud to support.

“It is such a unique opportunity for young people in regional areas to start conversations about what is happening in their communities, and what affects them and their friends,” Mr Chester said.

“I look forward to meeting these impressive young leaders in Canberra and hearing first-hand about their experiences and ideas to make their communities even stronger.”

Heywire is supported by the Federal Government through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Department of Health and AgriFutures Australia.

Kudamba’s winning entry:

When you think about people from Sudan, you probably picture them as tall.
It’s true of my family.
One of my brothers, Isaac, is six foot eight and everyone else is tall too.
But not me.
I am the shortest by far.
I am like a smurf in my family.
We came from Sudan to Australia in 2006, and one of the things I learnt to love here is footy AFL.
In my dreams I play AFL in the ruck, like my brother Isaac. But I know I’ll never play in the ruck, because I’m too short.
In reality, I play in the forward line for the team Mirboo North.
I get the ball, I kick goals and I’m famous for celebrating.
I practise footy a lot, and I’m getting better as I go.
This year was the best year, I actually got four votes in the best and fairest count. I have good coaches that work hard to make us better players in the future.
And that’s better than winning a grand final, because you can win at any time.
Football wasn’t the only thing I didn’t know about when I arrived in Australia.
I didn’t know very much about this country at all.
I didn’t even know the language was English.
When I arrived in the airport, I had nothing. I had never seen white people ever. It was a shock.
We moved to Morwell and we’ve been here 10 years now. I’m not even sick of it yet. I met new friends and I like this country a lot.
My goal is to be happy and to make other people happy.
Oh and I also want to play seniors in AFL.

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