John Maketh Story

In 1989, alone and at the age of 10, John Maketh made the harrowing journey from South Sudan to Ethiopia, fleeing Civil war, which had taken hold of his country. Less than 12 months later, war had broken out in Ethiopia, with no immediate option, John was forced to return to South Sudan where he begun his education, learning to read and write informally from a local teacher who had been educated in English.

In 1994 the civil war in Sudan Intensified and John was forced to once again leave behind his family as he fled to neighbouring country, Kenya. The Kenyan refugee camp John had been assigned to had both a primary and high school and John began his formal education. After an excellent performance in his first term of schooling, John was connected with NGO; Friends in the West, which facilitated his ability to leave the camp and be placed with a local family, allowing him to continue his primary school learning.

When John completed his primary education, he was placed with Jesuit Refugee Services, a scholarship organisation which granted him support to complete his high-school education. Thankful for the opportunity the Kenyan refugee camp had provided him with, at the conclusion of his studies, John returned to the camp as a volunteer primary school teacher where he taught Maths, English and Science to children in the position that he once was in.

In 2002, due to his refugee status, John was presented with the opportunity to apply for a Humanitarian Visa with the Australian Embassy and with evidence of his High School Education, and a recommendation from the Jesuit Refugee Service, he was granted permanent residency here in Australia. With his desire to learn stronger than ever, John went to TAFE where he completed his HSC equivalent, eventually going on to study a Diploma of Architectural Technology. From there, inspired by his studies, John applied to complete a Bachelor of Design in Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney.

In 2012, thirteen years later, John Maketh is graduating the Bachelor of Design in Architecture and beginning the next part of his journey to become an architect. From the time John started his education at a Kenyan Refugee Camp, a future in architecture had always been his dream. “Architecture is the only thing I want to do, it gives me room for creativity and the opportunity to create something that previously didn’t exist, it’s my passion”. Like many of his fellow-students, John’s work explores private and public spaces, informed by his personal journey of defiance over extreme diversity. “My dream is to design an outstanding building either here, or where I come from in South Sudan.”

John’s work will be on display at INDEX 2012. INDEX is a curated exhibition, showcasing projects from across all levels of the UTS School of Architecture with the ambition to engage the public in dialogue around architecture and the city, in a night filled with cutting edge works exploring the future of architecture.