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Teaching English helps former refugee settle in during COVID19 pandemic

17 June 2020

Mustafa has been in Australia exactly 4 months, and he is already helping others to learn English. He is currently tutoring two students as a volunteer tutor as well as  improving his own English though the Australian government’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

Mustafa was born in Afghanistan, but left after his father was killed. His mother was an engineer, but his extended family did not want his mother to work. The situation became difficult and dangerous so he and his mother and brother left for India. They lived in India for some time and were eventually accepted into Australia as refugees.

“In India I had no hope, but when the letter came from the Australian embassy I got struck by luck.”

One of Mustafa’s goals in Australia is to improve his education. Living as a refugee, it has been difficult for him to get much formal education. He speaks Dari, Hindi and Urdu and has picked up a lot of spoken English from working and speaking to people. He told me that a lot of his customers in India liked to speak English to him – so he was able to improve.

Ruth, who is the AMEP Coordinator at Wyndham Community & Education Centre said that Mustafa was “very keen and very, very enthusiastic. He wanted to volunteer in our workplace!” He told me that “I have to have something to do or else I’ll go crazy.”

Luckily, Mustafa has been able to channel his enthusiasm into helping other people learn English. He is working as an AMEP Volunteer Tutor with two students who cannot attend AMEP classes. His students have been in Australia longer than he has, but they share the experience of arriving in a new country without connections. He said that “his students never had the opportunity to learn English properly. I’m just helping them with the little I know. I’m glad to be able to share my knowledge with them.” Lydia, our Volunteer Tutor Project Officer said that “I know that if I need assistance, I can ring Mustafa and he will always help out.”

Mustafa’s volunteering helps him to meet people in Australia, improve his resume and skills and develop an understanding of Australian workplace culture. He is also making connections with people who can be a referee for him. Mustafa told me that “They say America is the land of dreams. I think the same thing about Australia. There is an ocean of opportunities. It’s a privilege to be here.”

We’re excited to see what the future brings for this enthusiastic young former refugee.