Some 80 Afghan translators who assisted Australian and Allied forces in Afghanistan have settled in the NSW Hunter region with their wives and children. Penola House at Mayfield is assisting them to feel 'at home' in the region, reports Aurora.
When families begin life in a new place, they are naturally concerned to find a home, employment – vocational retraining perhaps – health care and schooling for children.
Agencies such as the diocese’s Penola House as well as Northern Settlement Services and Navitas are assisting in these areas, but Sr Diana Santleben OP has another concern: the provision of opportunities for translators’ wives to begin to feel part of a warm and welcoming community.
Accordingly, Sr Diana and Sr Betty Brown RSJ have initiated what might well be called 'The Number One Ladies Dance and Music Club' at Penola House at Mayfield. The first gathering of the 'Club' took place on Saturday morning and judging by the smiles, clapping, singing in a number of languages and array of refreshments, it was a great success!
Several nationalities were represented and the recently arrived ladies from Afghanistan, soon began to relax and enjoy themselves. While there were differences in experience, custom and language, the commonalities of family life, the enjoyment of being an honoured guest and the opportunities to make new friends set the tone of the occasion.
As well as socialising, the guests have been offered opportunities for language enrichment and the other services of Penola House.
Sr Diana was delighted with the lively atmosphere and the enthusiasm of 'locals' to be involved. As Sr Diana said: 'We need ladies for transport, or to bring a plate for morning tea, or share their musical talents. We are asking the husbands to stay at home with the children so that the ladies can have a few hours to relax and make new friends.'
FULL STORY Number One Ladies Dance and Music Club