Mohamed Kandeh was only 16 years old when he fled from Sierra Leone as war tore his home country apart. Ever since, he has been hoping and praying to become an Australia citizen.
This Australia Day, at 39 years of age, his wish finally came true.
"I would say thank you to the Lord because I have been praying for this day for so long," Mr Kandeh said.
"I am so proud to be an Australian citizen. I am so full of joy. I can't even explain how I am feeling."
Mr Kandeh had to leave his family behind when he was just a teenager as he took a boat to Guinea. To this day, he still has never been able to contact his mother.
"It was really hard there for me because I didn't know anyone and it was the first time I had ever left my country," he said.
"It was a struggle to get things to eat, and sometimes bad people would come and take your little money from you. But, I kept praying. I went to some churches, and they helped us."
Mr Kandeh wanted to come straight to Australia but was sent as a refugee to America, but he never gave up hope.
Then in 2013, he finally touched down in Sydney. After visiting Wagga, he fell in love with the regional city and knew it would be the best place to raise his family.
"Wagga is the best place to live because here there are nice people," he said. "You ask them for anything, and they help, especially the Wagga Multicultural Council."
Mr Kandeh was one of more than 40 new citizens who were sworn in at the Australia Day ceremony in Wagga.
The conferees came from the Philippines, Nepal, Liberia, Vietnam, Egypt, Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Austria, Myanmar, Iran, the Republic of Ireland and the US.
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Gisela Gloeckner, originally from Austria, first visited Australia in the 1990s and fell in love with the country. At first, it was too expensive to become a permanent resident, but that changed when she retired.
"I had friends from my home town here in Tasmania, which is why I came here in the place," Ms Gloeckner said.
"When I retired in 2003, I was doing a summer in Austria and summer in Australia.
"I travelled around and then settled in Griffith. Then I moved to Wagga four years ago, and I love it."
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said he was privileged and proud to play a role in the citizenship ceremony.
"I know you will never forget where you came from and nor should you," he said. "Your path has made you the person you are today and is also what will make Australia what it becomes tomorrow."