A note from Editor-in-Chief, Madison McIvor: my friend, Haidarr Jones generously allowed me to transcribe his life story and share it with you all. Haidarr’s is a rich tale of strength, passion and extraordinary ambition for someone so young who has fought through so much. I am incredibly proud and humbled to know such a stoic, determined individual. We are blessed to have the opportunity to be inspired by someone who is truly a trailblazer.
Haidarr’s life has placed him in the unique position of being able to offer very considered, worldly advice at just 22 years of age. Haidarr is currently studying a Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts) at Flinders University.
I encourage you to join me in learning from the wisdom he passed onto me below.
Let me first tell you bout my childhood… My mother is an Aboriginal woman from Queensland. I’m the middle child of four and I’ve never met my father. My mother did everything she could to provide us with a meal every day and put a smile on the five faces she had to care for.
While growing up, I lived in the worst areas of just about every town you could think of. I stopped counting how many places I’d lived in when I hit number 20 and I moved to Bathurst at age 15. My family never had a stable home because we were constantly moving between women’s shelters and public housing, fleeing domestic violence. As a result, I never had any friends and was constantly surrounded by drug-addicted people, domestic violence and involvement in crime. I was the only one among my siblings to learn from the mistakes of those around me during my childhood.
I ran away at 15 to find a dream, to live that dream. I learnt how to think about what was possible and to stop accepting that my mum, brother and sisters had made choices that had to impact on me, too. After running away, I lived in several different youth homeless centres, but I made sure I still got to school every day. In these shelters, I would be kicked out every day at 8am and couldn’t return until 5pm. I’d take my bag, which had everything I owned and I’d go to class. I couldn’t sleep in. I couldn’t play games. I had to get myself out of this situation by myself, so I did.
Despite trying, I failed Years 10 and 11, and when I made it to my final year of high school, I learnt that I had to be diligent about going after what I want. I had to apply myself, to motivate myself. I had to do it for myself, by myself and only then would I be able to live out my dream, which back then was just to get a job. I finished Year 12 with all As and Bs.
I was lucky enough to get a place at Flinders University in Adelaide, where I now study a Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts). At university, I’ve done great things, things that I’ve never done before. I’ve been the President of the Flinders Indigenous Student Association and I’ve been the Indigenous Officer of the Campus Student Council. I finished my first year of university with a Distinction average. I’ve had an internship, too. The funny thing is, I did all of this while I was living at a youth homeless shelter by myself over that 12 month period.
My dream was to just get a job and live like every other person, eat like every other person, sleep like every other person… now I’ve made it way beyond that. Last year, I lived in a residential college where I got 3 meals a day! It was so great to have a steady roof over my head where I could leave my things, something that many of us take for granted.
My family, my past and my experiences have made me the person who I am today. If I never saw the true effects of drug addiction, would I be here today? Would I be in the same state of mind as I am now? Would I have this drive to acquire the power to change people’s lives? One thing’s for sure—without these experiences, I could not be so humble.
What I want everyone to learn from my journey is: there is always a person who has lived in worse situations and come further, and I’m not talking about me. I have seen so many other people live tougher lives and have a great future ahead of them. Every week, I see people unhappy with the way they are. So many people talk about their issues. You just don’t know how many others have had it much worse.
You have to realise your potential: if I made it to where I am at right now with my resources, imagine what you can do with your resources! We all need to realise that we can do more, take advantage of the opportunities around us and count our blessings.
Before university, I was too afraid to tell my story. I was too ashamed and didn’t want to be judged by my peers. But now, I’m proud to tell people that I’ve lived my whole life through poverty and homelessness, because it shows that one person can overcome their circumstances with resources around them and it proves we can all achieve greatness. I have spent almost three years studying a Bachelor of Media (Creative Arts) at Flinders University in Adelaide. I managed to overcome the issues and break the cycle just by getting to university. This achievement in itself makes me feel successful.
In my final year of my undergraduate degree, I reflect on how life has granted me the opportunity to view the world differently and speak my mind freely. I understand that power in the world revolves around money and education. It only took me a dollar and a dream to come to university, but I had to get my hands on both of those, first.
To my Indigenous brothers and sisters—show the true potential of one Aboriginal person—go to uni and achieve the unachievable; go back to your home or community and be a role model.