COMMUNITY SPACE: Magok Mou, Arop Mou, Akok Ater, George, Martin Deng-Jack and Lemmy Ilombo, from south Sudan, spend time together in the city centre. Gemima Harvey
COMMUNITY SPACE: Magok Mou, Arop Mou, Akok Ater, George, Martin Deng-Jack and Lemmy Ilombo, from south Sudan, spend time together in the city centre. Gemima Harvey

City centre provides a meeting place for friends old and new

THE heart of Coffs Harbour, the city centre, is the perfect meeting place for friends.

Strolling down Harbour Drive there is a familiar sight, giving rise to a spirited sense of community, a group of guys from South Sudan gathered together for a good old chat.

While the formation of friends is in flux, a few of those faces are Magok Mou, Lemmy Ilombo, Martin Deng-Jack, Akok Ater and George (all pictured), who often spend time together, swapping stories, sharing news and offering support.

They all came to Coffs Harbour as refugees, between five and 15 years ago.

George said they never plan meetings but often gravitate toward the city centre, which has become an unofficial gathering point or sharing space.

"We like being together. This place is where we meet and share ideas. It's nice and brings us together."

George, who will complete his Masters of Community Development (Emergency Management) later this year, said Sudanese people have a strong sense of community.

"Even if you go to Kenya, you will see Sudanese people sitting together."

Akok added they like to socialise with everyone, not just other Sudanese people, but enjoy one another's company because of the understanding that comes with sharing a similar cultural background.

Akok and Magok are studying a Diploma of Accounting and said it's very tough but they are trying hard.

Martin works picking blueberries and said when the season hits, the familiar sight of the friends sitting together in the city square would be less frequent, as they all head to the blueberry farms.