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Raising hope: Mu's journey from refugee to TAFE NSW star student

TAFE NSW Leeton

Raising hope: Mu's journey from refugee to TAFE NSW star student

CARING KIND: Mu Dah has forged a better life in the Riverina, thanks in part to the training she has received from TAFE NSW.

11 June, 2019

Born and raised in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, Mu Dah could never have envisaged a life where education and opportunity were bountiful.

But thanks to the “lucky country” and her own desire to forge a better life, Ms Dah now has a rewarding job, two TAFE NSW qualifications under her belt and is about to embark on a Diploma of Nursing at TAFE NSW Griffith.

Ms Dah moved to Australia for a safer life in 2009 after spending her entire childhood behind the cold wire of a refugee camp.

“My earliest memory is of the Burmese army burning our camp down when I was 4,” Ms Dah said. “I remember hiding behind a big rock as the grenades were coming closer. A grenade landed near the rock behind me and exploded – I was so scared.”

Her parents no longer alive, an 18-year-old Ms Dah and her three brothers arrived as humanitarian refugees in Brisbane in 2009 and, two years later, Ms Dah moved to Leeton

“I remember this feeling that I had found paradise … I was in heaven,” she said.

She enrolled in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at TAFE NSW Leeton, which provides up to 510 hours of English language tuition to eligible migrants and refugees. It gave her the confidence to successfully apply for a job packing meat at JBS Australia in Leeton.

Her taste of TAFE NSW left her hungry for more opportunities and in 2017, Ms Dah enrolled in a Certificate III in Individual Support – Aged Care, graduating the same year and winning the TAFE NSW Griffith Student Achievement Award.

She’s now employed as an aged care worker at Assumption Villas in Leeton, a role she loves.

“To be able to help someone and see the difference you can make is very rewarding,” Ms Dah said. “Their family can’t always be there and they often end up feeling like an older friend, you joke and laugh together.”

In July, Ms Dah will be back in the classroom, commencing her Diploma of Nursing at TAFE NSW Griffith, a qualification that will enable her to make a mercy mission back to her old home.

“I want to go back to the camp I grew up in and help people with their health,” she said. “But becoming an enrolled nurse will also allow me to get a better job and earn more money.

“This is my dream and I couldn’t have achieved it without TAFE NSW. I get goosebumps when I talk about how much my TAFE NSW teachers have given me; they’ve treated me like I’m one of their children.

“There are many new Australians scared they won’t fit in if they go to TAFE NSW but I would say to them, don’t be afraid, it will teach you English and teach you about the Australian culture.

“I started with no English and look at me now.”

To find out more about studying AMEP at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.