Vol­un­teers help steer mi­grants

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MANDY TE

A com­mu­nity driv­ing school is re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers to get young peo­ple, new mi­grants and eth­nic women be­hind the wheel.

The soon to launch Puketa¯papa com­mu­nity driv­ing school (PCDS) plans to make driv­ing lessons more ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able with the help of vol­un­teer driver men­tors. Many of the vol­un­teers who have signed up were for­mer mi­grants.

The com­mu­nity driv­ing school was set up by Mi­grant Ac­tion Trust (MAT), an or­gan­i­sa­tion which helps mi­grants and refugees set­tle in New Zealand. PCDS also has the back­ing of Project PETER, a com­mu­nity col­lec­tive fo­cused on ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and em­ploy­ment readi­ness.

So far, 15 peo­ple have vol­un­teered to be­come a driv­ing men­tor and more than 30 learn­ers are on the wait­ing list.

PCDS project co­or­di­na­tor Amie Maga said when young peo­ple, new mi­grants and for­mer refugees ap­plied for jobs, they had the de­sired skills but many did not have a li­cence which was a fre­quent re­quire­ment.

Bar­ri­ers such as the cost for driv­ing lessons could also be a prob­lem, she said.

‘‘Hav­ing lessons with a vol­un­teer can help a learner be more re­laxed, more pa­tient and more con­fi­dent, as they would prob­a­bly have an un­der­stand­ing of some­one’s lim­i­ta­tions,’’ Maga said.

Pro­fes­sional driv­ing in­struc­tor Shaila Bhatt said her ex­pe­ri­ences as a for­mer mi­grant en­cour­aged her to get ed­u­cated in driv­ing as a way to help the com­mu­nity and get in­volved in PCDS. ‘‘Driv­ing is a need and leads mi­grants to em­ploy­ment as well as help­ing their fam­ily,’’ Bhatt said.

For­mer mi­grant Sharon Nates has vol­un­teered to be a driv­ing men­tor at PCDS. She wanted to ‘‘pay it for­ward,’’ Nates said.

‘‘Driv­ing is a sym­bol of be­ing part of so­ci­ety be­cause you know the road rules and gives you con­fi­dence to be a part of a new so­ci­ety.’’

She was look­ing for­ward to be­ing sup­port­ive and also keen to learn how to teach, she said.

Orig­i­nally from Colombia, Paola Pinilla has signed up as a learner at PCDS. Pub­lic trans­port in Auck­land dur­ing rush hour was ex­pen­sive and driv­ing in New Zealand was an im­por­tant tool to have, es­pe­cially when it came to look­ing for a job, she said.

‘‘I was so happy when I heard about the com­mu­nity driv­ing school,’’ Pinilla said. ‘‘I’m ex­cited and ner­vous to learn.’’

MANDY TE/STUFF

Paola Pinilla is look­ing for­ward to learn­ing how to drive at the Puketa¯papa com­mu­nity driv­ing school.

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