21 July 2023
Finding connection in community
Mamuch Chuol is an athlete, student and leader who above all cherishes connecting people within his community. He is a recent addition to the CMY Shout Out speaker roster and wants to make a difference in the South Sudanese community in Australia so that he can implement similar opportunities back home.
Mamuch and his parents came to Australia from Gambella, Ethiopia in 2007 when he was just 5 years old. His early memories of the country are few due to his young age, but he vividly remembers looking out of the airplane window and seeing the city lights of Melbourne.
One of the strongest points of community connection for Mamuch growing up was through sports, particularly football in his early years and then onto basketball through the South Sudanese National Basketball Tournament, a tournament that has faced several cancellations. Mamuch reflects on his childhood playing for the Waverley Falcons and Highett Football Club, a club he is now back playing for, as “a stepping stone into where my life has been leading me towards.”
“When you’re a refugee and you’re growing up in Australia, there isn’t a lot of support for you,” he says.
“I’m grateful to the people that have helped me and that’s kind of why I’m so into community because community built me. I want to be able to pave the way for the next generation. I want our community be more supportive of one another because it’s those little one percenters that can help influence us and keep us going in the right direction.
One of these one percenters in Mamuch’s life was his basketball coach, Patrick Doherty. Among being his coach, Patrick acted as a father igure and a mentor to Mamuch, teaching him important lessons in life. Patrick’s mentorship inspired Mamuch so much that it made him want to be that positive figure for members of the South Sudanese community.
“It’s always good to take what you’ve learned and give it back,” he says. “For a community such as the South Sudanese community, I feel like that’s very vital.”
From this sprouted the idea for NextGen Unite, a youth-led non-for-profit organization founded by Mamuch, that aims to empower the next generation of South Sudanese people through a series of impactful programs. The organisation focuses on providing educational support, skill development, and mentorship opportunities to help young individuals thrive by fostering leadership qualities and community engagement.
“The youth-led part of it makes us a very strong organisation because young people are ready to take on those leadership roles and are ready to make change,” Mamuch says.
“We have so many things that hold us back from being one community. We grew up with tribalistic views from our parents and a lot of that intergenerational trauma was passed on to us unwillingly. As the future South Sudanese, we need to stick together and become united, for us to thrive from what’s held us back.”
Shortly, Mamuch will be starting a Double Degree in Laws and Arts at Victoria University. He wants to take the education from this degree and use it to implement law reform in South Sudan.
“Coming from refugee backgrounds and coming into Australia…I personally feel like we were chosen to come here for a reason and that reason is bigger than what people might think.”