SYDNEY - A documentary released Thursday tells the story of four women who fled conflict, rape and brutality in Africa. "The Baulkham HIlls African Ladies Troupe" is based on an Australian theater production of the same name and features refugee women -including a former child soldier in Eritrea and another who trekked across the Sahara to escape war - who play themselves on stage.
It is a story of survival and triumph.
The group is named after a Sydney suburb where recent refugee arrivals are often settled.
Their stage production has played to sold out shows in Australia and other countries and was filmed for the documentary.
The four women say their goal is to encourage other refugees to speak out about the trauma they may have suffered and begin the healing process.
“Well, I was a child soldier. I was kidnapped when I was five by the army. I grew up there until I was 16. I was in a front-line war. We were heavily targeted, and most of - some died and some escaped," explains Yordanos Haile-Michael, a refugee from Eritrea, who says it is important that her story receives a wide audience. " I knew this would be my time for me to escape. I went across to, I went to Kapia, and I was jailed for three years as a prisoner of war and then I escaped from there to Sudan, to the border."
The documentary’s producers say the film will also be shown at the Mumbai Film Festival in India.
Australia grants visas to just under 14,000 refugees each year. That figure will soon increase to 19,000.
In recent years most refugees arriving in Australia have come from Iraq and Syria, with others from across Africa, including Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. In previous years Australia has resettled families fleeing conflict in Sudan and Liberia.