“The mothers here are my friends even though we don’t speak each other’s languages” says Mary, the project assistant at Auckland’s Safari West Multicultural Playgroup. “Our families are often shy and isolated – I help them take the next step. I am a mother not only to my own children; I am mother to all children.”
The Safari West Multicultural Playgroup is one of several collaborative initiatives driven by the Auckland Refugee Community Coalition and Auckland Regional Migrant Services. The multi-cultural playgroup supports mothers and their children to learn and live successfully in their new community, and combines early childhood education with parent education, English language lessons, work experience, and other opportunities identified by migrant and refugee communities. A crucial component of the approach is that former refugees are always involved in planning and running the initiatives.
Mary, who had to use a wheelchair when she first arrived in New Zealand from Rwanda, worked as a playgroup volunteer before being appointed to the project assistant role. “Now, thanks to the New Zealand medical system, I can walk again. My children are doing well, I have a driver’s license, citizenship and paid work. Now I am at home here. Next I can be the organisation’s director – why not?”
The Todd Foundation has supported the Safari West Multi-cultural Playgroup and related initiatives with three years funding from our General Fund.
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