Refugee Alumni Now Serving in the Australian Army

Cedars launched a new campaign recently featuring one of their alumni, Jean Marc Bukasa who overcame the many hardships faced as a refugee and is now serving in the Australian Army.

Jean Marc graduated from Cedars in 2014 and with a heart to serve and defend his new country, he became an Australian citizen and three days later was accepted into the Australian Army.   He completed his Army training in 2015.

Jean’s family, including his four brothers who also attend Cedars or have graduated from the College, originally lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo and fled to Zambia to escape oppression by the military when Jean Marc was only seven years old. Jean Marc spent many years of his childhood in refugee camps and was not always sure where his next meal would come from, often having only one meal a day.

“We loved to play soccer as often as we could as it was the one thing that took our minds off our situation or the hunger we felt.”

Cedars became a safe place for Jean Marc and his brothers and he has fond memories of his years there.  “I value the friendships I made and the teachers who encouraged me to achieve the goals I set for myself.”

Cedars Principal Steve Walton recently commented, “I am amazed and proud that, one of our students, after fleeing war, living in a refugee camp, and finally finding a new home in

Australia, signed up to defend the freedoms we often take for granted  soon after gaining citizenship and graduating from high school.  We had the great honour of serving one of our students who is now serving In the Australian Army.”

Since joining the Army, Jean Marc has been posted in both Iraq and Malaysia.  Being in both countries brought unique challenges including the intense jungle training in Malaysia and seeing the war torn country of Iraq. “I became very fond of the Iraqi people.”

Jean is keen to achieve the goals he has set for himself in life. “I am studying criminology part time while I continue to serve in the Army and I hope to become a criminologist or be in the Federal Police in the future.”

He does not lack in vision or ambition to be successful in whatever path he chooses to take.  “My parents and teachers have helped teach me to be the best you can be and to pursue your dreams no matter where you have come from in life.”