Khadija Gbla was just 3-years-old when the war broke out in her country, Sierra Leone. While her family initially escaped to Gambia, 10 years later they attained refugee status and resettled in Adelaide, Australia. The transition was complex—Khadija experienced racism, illness and depression—but threw herself into her education. She discovered that she had a unique talent: the ability to translate across two very different cultures.
Khadija first used this talent as a peer educator for South Australia’s Women’s Heath Statewide program, where she talked to health professionals about female genital mutilation — helping them understand what it is, where it happens, and the cultural beliefs that surround it. She’s since used her multicultural voice to offer advice on policy through South Australian Government Minister’s Youth Council, to organize camps and activities for newly-arrived refugees and to raise awareness about both sexual and mental health issues among her peers. She has represented Australia in the international arena at the Harvard National Model United Nations, Commonwealth Youth Forum and Australian and Africa Dialogue, and speaks regularly at a wide variety of events to make sure that her perspective is heard.