WHEN South Sudanese-born Loang Rout came to Australia in 2001, everything in his new life was a struggle — he didn’t speak the language and his family didn’t have much.
But with the right help he succeeded and is now on his way to becoming a police officer and Sudanese community leader.
The Dandenong man, 22, recently finished a personal training course and has been volunteering with the Berwick Salvation Army for the past six years.
A keen basketball player, Mr Rout drives the bus for the Salvation Army’s START drug and alcohol program, runs classes when needed and coaches junior and senior basketball teams.
He was recently named the organisation’s young volunteer of the year.
Mr Rout said he wanted to help others because he was passionate about making sure people stayed on the right track.
He said he had seen people who had turned to drugs out of loneliness or falling in with the wrong people who had shaken their habits through basketball, and said it was important for young people to have social connections and activities to occupy them.
“People turn to drugs as a way to get out because nobody listens to them,” he said.
“I sit down and listen to their stories and help them out slowly to try and get rid of their addiction.
“A lot of young kids look up to me and I can use that to stay positive and help them out with things as simple as homework or help them with something else so they don’t veer off.”
Salvation Army spokesman Troy Pittaway said Mr Rout was an asset to the organisation.
“Being young and from a refugee background, Loang has had to overcome many of the obstacles that have ensnared other Sudanese youth, such as drugs and alcohol and gangs and petty crime,” he said.
“He is an excellent example among the Sudanese community of what a young person can accomplish with firm goals and a purpose.”
Source: Herald Sun Australia