Volunteering – Settlement Support volunteering can be the helping hand for immigrants to gel in the alien country. Brian Smith of Papatoetoe, one of the volunteers is doing exactly that. He is an experienced helper who has been thanked by six families. He has done all things possible for immigrants to adjust to their new lives in a period of over a decade. “We’ve come across about six families thanks to our Mangere East Baptist Church during the period and we feel content as he we help them be at home”, he said.
Main Problems – “The main challenges ahead of any immigrant are Work and Income, accommodation, schools and banks, which involve a lot of paper work. It is simply awful to be fair,” he cited. Burmese refugee Aung Mai came to New Zealand a few years back with his wife and three kids. She is one those who has benefitted a lot from Mr. Smith’s generosity. The two first came across at church, six months after Mr. Mai left the Mangere immigrant centre.
The Smith Factor – Brian Smith is perhaps the most respected of all the volunteers. Aung Mai said, “I see that a few volunteers are extremely obliging but in most instances they work on a full time basis and due to this I don’t approach for any help.” He further went on to say that Mr. Smith is more often that free and helped us to improve upon our English. He is now helping other Burmese people to settle in New Zealand.
Neighborhood Ethics – Manukau Settlement Support officer Sharon Xue believes that the volunteer program persuades local people to lend a hand to their neighbors so the migrants can settle down in the alien country easily. “Our position is to discover what would trouble an immigrant. Immigrants would find it hard to ask for help”, he said. On another side, these neighborhood ethics have helped to build relations; Mai and Smith fondly remember their time.
Wider Network – In the Settlement Support program people like Brian Smith and their church mates have developed a wider network of volunteers who are willing to help these immigrants. Xue agreed that for all those who work full time, it becomes extremely difficult; it’s simply about how much time one devotes. “The entire program is talked about all across the country and in such a case retired people left with a bit of vigor are the best bet”, he added.