Stories from Manus

When I was a kid in school, they nicknamed me Joy, because I was so happy

Meet Junaid, 24,

Imprisoned on Manus 

Island Detention Camp

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When I was a kid in school, they nicknamed me Joy, because I was so happy. My dad was a fisherman, and he worked hard to send me and my brothers and sisters to school. He told us to work hard, so that we could be educated, and work to help people. He was a survivor, my father.

Biology was my favourite class. I loved learning about how the world worked, how there were living things and nonliving things. It's fascinating, how much you can find out about them. I wanted to keep learning about science, maybe study chemistry or physics.

But after I finished school, I couldn't go to university - the government wouldn't let me. So instead I volunteered for a year, six days a week, teaching kindergarten kids about letters and numbers. I wanted to be learning, but if I couldn't, then at least I could teach.

I played soccer too. In Burma, I played defender - but here in the camp, I play keeper as well.

I was 21 when I left Burma. The situation for me just got too dangerous. Now I'm 24. I've never known freedom.

I went to Thailand first, and then Malaysia. Because I'm stateless, I didn't have papers, so I could hardly go outside. I did a bit of work, but it was too dangerous.

I feel like I've spent my life escaping danger,  trying to find freedom. I feel like I've been scared forever.

Talking now is so important to me, because I feel like it's the first time I can speak, that I can tell my story. It's the first time I feel hope.

After I finished school, I couldn't go to university - the government wouldn't let me. So instead I volunteered for a year, six days a week, teaching kindergarten kids about letters and numbers. I wanted to be learning, but if I couldn't, then at least I could teach

I'm learning to play guitar here. My favourite songs are romantic songs. It's the same with movies. The first time I saw Titanic I was 16 or 17, and I cried. My family all laughed at me, but I think that film is just heartbreaking. I've watched it 10 or 15 times now, and I cry every time. Leonardo DiCaprio is my favourite actor.

If I get to go to Australia, I'll be so excited. I can hardly imagine it. I want to see the Opera House, and the bridge, and the national parks. I want to go to Brisbane. There's so much to see and learn.

I want to be an electrician. But I would be happy doing any kind of work, so I could study as well. I would do anything.

I'd like to get married, but I'd want to live with a girlfriend first, to make sure we get along. You might get into problems, getting married too quickly. But once I've lived with someone, then we could get married, once we were sure we were right for each other. We could start a family. I'm a bit of a romantic.

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Photo by: Mathew Abbott