Today we stopped by the house of James Makeui — a Sudanese man whom we first met in Kenya in 2004. It’s inspiring to see him and his family here in Australia — a testimony of the positive power of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the welcoming spirit of the Australian people.

David and James Makeui, February 2012
James embraces David when they reunite at his Blacktown, Sydney home.

Deng first introduced us to James Makeui during our stay in Nairobi. We walked around town together and James came to our hotel room to talk about the current situation in southern Sudan. We had no idea then that we would meet up again in Australia!

When David and Deng travelled to Kakuma in the northern region of Kenya, they saw James there again. He had returned to his family and was processing documents through the UNHCR to try to relocate to another country.

David and James Makeui in Kakuma, December 2004
David is reunited with James Makuei in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya in December 2004.

David and James Makeui, February 2012
It's seven years and an ocean away from their last meeting.

David and James Makeui's family, December 2004
David meets James' family, including his wife Deborah and two oldest sons Bol and Ajak.

Look how he’s gained weight! It’s clear that life is better here in Australia. The whole family is healthier and fatter (in a good way, of course). And when they posed for the photo above, they had no idea that they would see it again — in another country, a world away from the refugee camp!

Looking at photos from Sudan, February 2012
The family enjoys reminiscing about their lives in Kakuma Refugee Camp as they look over David's photos.

I met James Makeui in Nairobi in 2004 but didn’t get to meet his wife and children as I didn’t travel to Kakuma. Now James has seven children — two were born here in Australia after their arrival in 2008. We enjoyed playing with them and talking about our times together in Africa.

James is currently working as a security guard at the railway station. To a stranger, he’s a big, strong man. To those of us who know him — he is mild and gentle. It’s a pleasure to know James and we’re thankful that he can start a new life here in this fabulous country!