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Migrant student thriving in TAFE NSW program

A woman who fled war-torn Iraq to seek refuge in Australia has credited TAFE NSW with helping her start a new life in her adopted country.

Naaro Gharib was told she would be relocated by the United Nations to Australia with her husband and two children and arrived in 2017.

Upon arrival, Naaro enrolled at TAFE NSW and begun the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). The program covers language and literacy training, as well as life skills such as how to open a bank account, access healthcare or find a job. The training is delivered by TAFE NSW teachers with English teaching qualifications.

Naaro found settling into classes quite difficult for a number of reasons; she is a mother of young children with no schooling history, an uncomfortable housing situation and some tensions with other students due to previous aggravations from Iraq. On top of all this, Naaro suffered quite severely from trauma. Because of these factors, Naaro was not improving in her English.

Her volunteer tutor Sharen Harrigan suggested they try some gardening at the Community Gardens, knowing that Naaro was a farmer in Iraq and a different environment might assist the situation. Ms Harrigan said the change in Naaro since they began spending time at the gardens is amazing.

“Having a practical application for our language communication has given Naaro a visual connection and an opportunity to build self-worth and independence. Having this practical garden focus has changed the way we both look at English lessons,” Ms Harrigan said.

“Not only has Naaro’s English improved in this relaxed garden setting, her whole attitude has changed. The clothes she wears are bright and fun, she brings ingredients to bake bread and traditional meals from Iraq in the wood fire oven at the gardens. This weekly experience has helped her find her sense of identity again.”

Naaro said she enjoys her time at the gardens and is happy to have established herself within the community and within Australia.

The AMEP Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Department of Home Affairs and supported by AMEP Volunteer tutors. If you would like information about becoming an AMEP Volunteer tutor in NSW please call (02) 9942 0644 or email

To enquire about enrolling in the AMEP at TAFE NSW, phone 1800 114 707 or visit


Media contact: Sarah Lievore, TAFE NSW Media Officer,