Kot Monoah’s story of tragedy, moral courage and triumph

Kot Monoah’s story of tragedy, moral courage and triumph



Participants in the Ethical Leadership Program (27-29 November 17) were inspired by guest speaker, Kot Monoah’s, deeply personal story of tragedy, moral courage and triumph.

South Sudan’s ‘lost generation’

Kot was born in 1982 in South Sudan when it was on the verge of its second civil war. War broke out in 1983 and reached Kot’s village in 1986. To avoid gunfire, his parents taught him to ‘hug the earth’. Rival tribes would come at night (or occasionally during day time) to rustle cattle and loot.

Kot’s family survived for three years in their village of Pagarau before they realised their only chance of survival was to leave. As a seven-year old boy, Kot trekked across the Sahara Desert for several months to reach Itang refugee camp in Ethiopia. Kot learned to shadow the trekking team leader because he always first to the water source, strategic food spot and resting vantage point. He would run water back to his mother and siblings, avoiding snakes, hyenas and other perils, to replenish their supplies without having to stop because those who lagged behind were left behind.

Striving in the face of adversity

As new migrants to Australia, Kot and his family were housed in Melbourne suburb, Endeavour Hills. Kot survived on a New Start allowance of $450 a fortnight. He contributed about $300 to his family for food and household expenses and $98 on a train ticket so he could travel to Victoria University on the other side of town to complete his dual science and law degree. On graduation, he earned his place as an articled clerk at law firm, Slater & Gordon, where he has since practised law for seven years.

Program Participant, Keely Malady, was inspired by Kot’s courage.

“Kot showed great moral courage under very difficult circumstances. As a leader, you make the best of your circumstances. Kot strived to make the best of his situation so his family could survive. As a new migrant to Australia, he made best of his education so he could do good for his community. I think that’s what ethical leadership is all about” said Keely.

Another program participant, Tarja Saastamoinen, admired Kot’s resilience.

“His start in life was tough. War came to his village at four years-old and he’s experienced disadvantage that we as Australians can’t even imagine. He managed not only to overcome his difficult circumstances but to thrive. He said he was protected by a sense of gratitude for being alive. I think it’s easy to be grateful in the good times but not so easy in the tough times,” said Tarja.

What is the Ethical Leadership Program?

The Ethical Leadership Program is a three-day course that teaches you how to be an effective leader, with the integrity and skills to make a difference in your workplace.

Typically, the course is attended by leaders with a drive to influence workplace culture. Each cohort is represented by leaders from corporations, government, not-for-profit and social enterprise.

Dates and details for the 2018 Ethical Leadership Program are available on our website.