Boost for program that helps refugee children with homework

A Wagga program which helps refugee children with their homework has received a donation of almost $30,000.

Cindy James, the school co-ordinator for St Vincent de Paul Society Wagga, said many parents from refugee families value education highly, but due to their own broken schooling and low English literacy, cannot help with their children’s homework.

The program helps these children to complete their homework and grow their confidence and literacy and numeracy skills.

The program was given a $28,980 grant from the Commonwealth Bank’s staff community fund.

“Vinnies Wagga is delighted the Commonwealth Bank selected us to receive one of their community grants,” said Ms James.

“We already have a great track record of having successful outcomes with this program.”

Ms James said many of the volunteers are teaching professionals, either current or retired, with a wealth of experience.

She gave the example of a boy who is referred to as “Ronan”.

“Ronan arrived in Australia in April this year. His family belong to a minority ethnic group in Syria and Iraq and have been persecuted for many years,” Ms James said.

“After a terrible massacre, his family fled to Turkey, where they lived in a refugee camp before being brought to Australia.

“Ronan had no previous schooling and had significant learning gaps.

“He was enrolled in Mount Austin Primary School but was struggling to cope with his new surroundings.

“Ronan knew how to make his own fun outside, but inside unfamiliar buildings and classrooms, he found sitting still, listening to a new language, and even holding a pencil very difficult.”

Ms James said one of the program volunteers began sitting alongside Ronan and helping him complete his homework.

“The volunteer soon noticed his natural ability with mathematics and how bright he was,” she said.

“She took the time to gently encourage and congratulate his progress and was rewarded with his soaring confidence and improved concentration.

“In just a few months Ronan has moved in leaps and bounds and will be a wonderful role model for his younger sister who starts kindergarten next year.”