TEN years ago, George Kasongo fled war in Africa to seek asylum in Australia.
More than five million people lost their lives in the Second Congo War, the deadliest conflict since the World War II.
After three years in a Ugandan refugee camp, the University of New England student and his two siblings were granted Australian visas and relocated to Inverell.
Mr Kasongo said it was like a miracle to receive asylum in Australia.
“The lives of people in the camp, I would say it's catastrophic,” he said.
“But I look on the TV and see 40 people die, 100 people die and I know we can not go home.
“Then we get a chance to go to Australia and I have a chance to be a healthy boy, happy boy, I would say it’s a miracle.”
When Mr Kasongo arrived in Australia his English was “rubbish” and so at the age of 24, he re-enrolled in high school.
“We can speak French and Swahili but here you must have English,” he said.
“So I said, we have to study, I have to go to high school.”
Mr Kasongo completed his Higher School Certificate in 2012 and gained entry into the UNE science program, where he excelled and is now completing a Bachelor of Engineering.
This week, Armidale celebrates refugees and the contribution they make in the community.
Northern Settlement Service project worker Judith Roberts said Refugee Week was a chance to not only celebrate refugees and the contribution they made, but also acknowledge the community members who welcomed and supported them.
“We have a lot of really wonderful volunteers that have been working for years,” she said.
One of the main ways the community offers support is through English language programs.
“Many are retired teachers and academics offer their services,” Ms Roberts said.
Armidale Regional Council will hold its annual Refugee Week morning tea on Friday. Council administrator Ian Tiley will host the event from 10.30am at the council chambers in Rusden Street.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.