By BELINDA SCOTT
KUEI Manyon became one of Coffs Harbour's newest Australian citizens yesterday.
The 25-year-old accountancy student's father was killed in the war that has devastated Southern Sudan, her mother remains in her home village in Sudan, and her husband is studying medicine in America.
Ms Manyon left Sudan with six other members of her family in 2002 and made her way to Coffs Harbour via Kenya.
Kuei Manyon's eight-month-old son, Atem, was born in Australia and Ms Manyon has been studying accountancy at the Coffs Harbour campus of TAFE.
Fluent in three languages, Swahili and Arabic as well as English, she has found her school English studies a great help in settling into Coffs Harbour.
Another new citizen, Manyang Mashot, is finding he needs more help with the new language. In his home in wartorn Sudan, Mr Mashot sold clothes in the market.
Now he and his family are Australian citizens and the father of five is working in Coffs Harbour and learning English so he can improve his skills.
In the future he would like to bring some of the colourful African fabrics of his native land to Australia 'but it needs money to do that'.
Mrs Julia Scully moved from the Philippines to Coffs Harbour in 1998 with her son, who will turn nine next month. The office administration student became an Australian citizen yesterday, saying 'it's being part of Australia'.
Sigrid and Gustaf Ragnarsson have lived in Coffs Harbour for 18 years. But yesterday, the couple, who originally moved to Australia from Iceland, officially became Australian citizens. So did their three strapping sons, 28-year old Envar; 20-year-old Bjark and 16-year-old Brynjar.
Mrs Ragnarsson said they had made a number of trips back to Iceland, but they lived and worked here and loved the Australian country and its people, so 'we thought it was right to become Australian'.
A total of 54 people hailing from 15 different countries, became Australian citizens during Coffs Harbour's Australia Day celebrations yesterday.
Other new citizens came from Tonga, Egypt, Taiwan, Sweden, America, Fiji, Thailand, India, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Kenya and the UK.