resilience with kindness & purpose


Philip Lako

Philip’s goals as a Resilient Leader — using his values of kindness, love, respect for all, humility, humbleness, tolerance and understanding — are:

  • Share stories of inspiration, resilience and creating an environment where education is accessible to all children regardless of location or gender.
  • Create an ethical business where communities and the business mutually benefit.

His journey towards these goals tells a story of profound resilience.


(Told in the forthcoming book, “The Ten-Year Old Man”)

The Ten-Year-Old Man manuscript is about a life of a 10 years old boy forcefully removed from a tiny village in South Sudan. The book begins with a recount of what life was like from the age of 5 and captures some of the cultural practices in Mundari tribe such as facial scarification. The manuscript also provided a snapshot of the life lived in the village and cattle camp, and how the life transition process from adolescence to adulthood was interrupted when the Sudan People Liberation Army rebel took the boy from the village at the age of 10 under the pretext of education.

The forceful removal resulted into prolonged suffering and torment from the rebels and constant attack by Ugandan Rebel Lord Resistance Army. The ordeal continued until 2000 when the boy escaped to Kenya to seek refuge. Although there was, shelter, rationed food and basic security in camp, being a refugee was the defining movement for the boy’s life as a glimpse of hope was felt. At first, he thought, he had arrived in a place where dreaming could be possible, hopefully for the last time, only to realise the hopelessness and despair invading his life again. The mischief lasted for 4 years at two different camps, in Kenya before resettlement. The boy arrived Australia in 2004 and his life changed.

In Australia, the boy, a man by then, showed his appreciation to Australia and its people through volunteering which drew media attention including ABC News, The Record, and Eastern Reporter. Another way the boy wants to show appreciation to the Australia is by sharing his personal life encounters from the aged of 5 as a reminder life can be unfair sometimes. The memoir also provides the boy’s life experiences in Australia and how Australia has restored his human dignity and purpose.

(Excerpt from the forthcoming book, The Ten-Year-Old Man”)
For me success is infinite and is measured in an ability to do good for others regardless of your financial status. I have always considered myself successful, but at a lower degree because of limited resources. As much as I would like to help as many people as possible, I lack the means. For example, one of my dreams is to help as many people as possible, especially young children, regardless of their origins. I envisioned that by working with like-minded people I could realise this goal. When an opportunity would arise for me to help, I should be able to do so without any hesitation. This is what I call success. But as a young person whose self-confidence had been challenged from an early age, I had to remain alert and resist opposing forces. I harnessed good virtues, integrity and values. These forces sometimes made it impossible to plan my life in the God-given nation of Australia. Despite temptations, I remained focused on working towards my dream, regardless of how long it would take. Success requires persistence and discipline, as clearly stated by some of the most influential people the world has ever provided.

‘Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.’ Winston Churchill. If failure was fatal, I knew I would long ago have surrendered my life to the angel of death. I believe in God Almighty and the blessings of my ancestors to ensure I live to deliver what I was made for. It took me a while to discover that. It was Dr Ostrowiski, who supplied us with food and learning resources, and generous Catholic priest, Father Gerry, who rescued us from starvation after we were chased away from Polataka following attack by the rebels, who showed me this. Another moment was when I was in the displacement and refugee camps. In addition, there was the resettlement to Australia. I regard these gestures as act of kindness and goodwill and will do anything humanly possible to live a humble life because it is through another person’s kindness and government policies that I am now living in this great nation. I ask God for longevity and better ideas that will help me in my contribution in Australia and the world.

Philip Lako and Wendy Campbell
August 2020