The latest intake of Palmerston North Refugee CIH families celebrated their graduation at Freyberg High School on Friday 12 October. 15 jubilant graduates and their children were acknowledged by Freyberg, Refugee Services and Ministry of Education staff. Huge thanks to tutor Michael Herring, coordinator Florence Kelly, interpreter Usanna and Family Visitor Tha Boe who all worked together to give the parents a great training experience over the previous 2 months. Refugee Education Coordinator for the Wellington Region, Abdi Bihi, presented certificates to a most photogenic group of graduates, many of whom returned for more family shots. The staffroom looked fantastic with examples of wearable arts which provided a creative backdrop to our photos, and a sumptuous lunch was shared before families took their computers home. Technical support is being arranged via Robin and Richard of FMS and everybody should be online within a couple of weeks. Well done everyone. Jenny Pepworth, Social worker for Refugee Services has this to say about Computers in Homes “This comprehensive programme, which many former refugee families settled in the Manawatu have been involved with over the past 5 years, has proved to be enormously successful. In our experience at Refugee Services Manawatu, it is one of the very few, if not the only programme of any type which has successfully removed every barrier to access for refugee families. The provision in particular of childcare and transport is a unique aspect of the programme and without this support most of the refugee families who have recently arrived in the community would be excluded. The programme has very successfully addressed and supported cultural issues and the employment of a family liaison worker who acts as both a language and cultural interpreter has been instrumental in developing community trust and confidence in the programme. This position has enabled the link between the ethnic and host communities to be as constructive and efficient as possible. It has been a delight to observe parents in the community who have few literacy skills and who speak no English start developing confidence and enjoyment in using their computers. The increase in their self-esteem and in their ability to regain their leadership roles in the family that this programme has enabled has made a significant contribution towards supporting families towards successful resettlement.”

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