Meet Khadija and Kerry..our Mercy Connect Student and Volunteer
It’s National Volunteer Week and we here at Mercy Connect know the impact volunteers can make.
We want you to meet Kerry, a volunteer with Mercy Connect for many years who volunteers at our Dandenong Library in Melbourne. She has been helping Khadija over the past year to attain her dream of becoming an Australian citizen.
Khadija is in her early 30’s and has been attending our Mercy Connect Adult Literacy Class in the Dandenong Library since the early days of the program in 2017. The morning she arrived, she had her sister and three nieces with her – all who had recently arrived in Australia.
All very keen to learn English, it was not long before we learnt that Khadija, who is unmarried, and two of her nieces lived together next door to her sister, husband and three other children. The nieces who joined us were in their mid to late teens. Too old for school and too young to be with us – because they had the ability to be in a formal education setting to progress to higher education. We were able to secure a placement for the three girls at St Joseph’s Flexible Learning Centre they were able to continue their education and complete their VCE Exam.
But this was not an option for Khadija.
Khadija’s education had never been a priority for the family. She continues to come to Mercy Connect Literacy Program alone and our volunteers say her smiling face coming through the door every week lights up the room. Khadija finds learning English difficult but that does not put her off. Every week she is determined to learn.
One Friday in the middle of last year she told us she was going to become an Australian Citizen and wanted to study the questions for the exam. This was a huge task for her. Every week Khadija and her Mercy Connect Volunteer Tutor, Kerry, would go through sets of questions and readings from the Citizenship Booklet, then testing what had been studied during their time together. Even Kerry acknowledged she learnt some facts and figures about Australia she had never heard of.
Two weeks before the end of term Khadija‘s smile was even bigger than before. She had done the exam and passed. She is now an Australian Citizen. And we are very proud.
What does the future look like for Khadija? As her English continues to improve she has many options open to her either as further study or in the workforce. She has worked hard and deserves to make great progress in her life. More importantly she developed a bond with her Mercy Connect Volunteer tutor making the world a better place.
At Mercy Works we believe there will always be a place for Mercy Connect to support people such as Khadija who would otherwise remain alone and disconnected from society.
“I love working with the adults as part of the Mercy Connect Program…I think it’s a really valuable program and hopefully Khadija is benefitting,” says Kerry.
We know she is.
Become a volunteer today with our Mercy Connect Team.
You can apply here by filling in the form online or downloading the PDF