A House Becomes Home

Our family moved into their home on Saturday.  Refugee Services prepared us for a day of chaotic madness and an all round raukus of lifting heavy furniture and household items.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too overwhelming.  In fact was quite fun!  My team mates arrived earlier to catch the flow of a lounge suite, dining suite and a queen-sized bed that came in dribs and drabs.

Team Mates

I followed up behind the Refugee Services delivery van after they picked up an old single bed of ours.

It is SO great to see generosity of many different people in action.  I’m grateful for the mountains of bedding, crockery and all sorts that my church family and friends have been flinging in my direction.  It’s wonderful to see donated heaters, electronics  and other homeware gone to good use.

Housewares

Our family is settling into their house well and it’s lovely to see them in their own space.  Although, the first day of the move, they didn’t quite feel ready to move in. They ended up staying Mama’s brother’s home until Monday!

Our Family

Over the next month Jess, Mon and I will take turns visiting them regularly to make sure they can create a sense of normality in NZ.  Tomorrow Mon will be taking them to their first of many WINZ appointments.  The end goal is for them to receive a grant for a new fridge and washing machine.  It was my job to run around different department stores getting quotes of whiteware for their WINZ appointment.  Quite an eye-opener on negotiating and comparing prices for expensive items.

With large amounts of sign-language and laughter, here’s hoping the appointment goes well!

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There’s a Woman with her hands trembling “Haere Mai”….

If you’re a Kiwi – both new and long-established, no doubt this song by Dave Dobbyn makes your heart feel a little bit warm and eyes glisten.  I definitely find it moving.

Inspired by this song, my internship last year, life experiences and by my faith, I have decided to join the “welcoming committee”.

I’ve put my hand up to become a Volunteer Support Worker with Refugee Services.  This program is  a way of Kiwis saying “Haere Mai” to our newest Kiwis and helping them settle in NZ.

I’ve just completed 6 weeks of training, where we learned a little about the UNHCR process, social services available in NZ and cross cultural interaction.   I have been placed in a team with two other lovely young women – Mon & Jess.   They both have such interesting backgrounds and travel histories, that it makes mine look tame!

Mon, myself, Jess & our training coordinator Heidi.

We’ve been assigned to a Burmese Karen Family, which we met for the first time last week.  With their limited English and our non-existent Karen language, communication was… interesting!  Thankfully our family has some extended family members here already, who speak English, so were able to converse more than just smiling and nodding.

In a couple of weeks they will be leaving the Mangere Refugee Centre and moving into their own home.

The next 6 months will definitely be a steep learning curve of culture, boundaries, NZ social services and even about ourselves.  I and my team mates are a little nervous.

I’m looking forward to sharing some few interesting insights that I and my team mates are learning over the remainder of the year!

In order to respect the privacy of the family we are assisting, I will be using pseudonyms.