June 17, 2014

Kau's Story: an Example of How Mercy Connects

For students adjusting to a new language, different social rules and educational practices, school can be a daunting place. The Mercy Works Mercy Connect Project recruits, trains and supports volunteers to assist refugee school students and their families settle in Australia. These dedicated mentors give one to two days a week of their time to encourage and support students in their schooling. They also help the students build relationships and develop self-confidence.

Here is one story from Sydney NSW…

Shooting hoops with patient determination

It can take a while for people to truly know what support they need and to decide for themselves what their goals are. Nurturing this process requires time and patience, but the results can be remarkable.

Mercy Connect volunteer, Jeanette Loy has helped Kau Majur, a Sudanese refugee, with his studies since 2011. Their journey together has crossed three schools and seen significant change.

When Jeanette first started with Kau at the Catholic Intensive English Centre, his motivation was low, his attendance poor and he only seemed to turn up to school to play ball games at lunchtime. Adjusting to life in Australia and school education was a significant challenge.

Over time Kau’s attitude change. There were some key catalysts. For one school assignment, Kau had to read a book on Martin Luther King. Jeanette helped him with understanding the language and messaging in the book. Kau was particularly inspired by King. ‘He didn’t give up when people put him down,‘ says Kau, ‘he kept on because he believed in what he was doing.’

Kau managed to find something to bring focus to his own life: basketball. A natural and gifted athlete, Kau plays for two local basketball teams and is now focused on his dream of becoming a professional player. Thanks to the support of Jeanette and his teachers he sees that his education is vital part of achieving this. His attendance at school is now excellent and he hands all his assessments in on time.

Jeanette says she had noticed ‘a huge change’ in Kau. ‘I’m under no illusion about what can be achieved in our short time together, but to be able to help someone and see them grow as Kau has, is just great.’

Kau now goes to Delaney College in Granville NSW. He values the time he has each week with Jeanette: ‘every Tuesday I’m excited and happy that she is here to help me. Other days if I don’t understand anything I go and find help. I try my best to understand first, but if not I get help.’

Kau has been offered a place with NSA Australia, which identifies young sporting talent with the potential to pursue their sport at American colleges. It’s an ambitious goal but he understands how important his education is in achieving it. ‘When I start Year 11 I’ll cut down the amount of time playing basketball and focus more on study so I can get everything in balance.’

From The Bilum June 2014 Issue

Messages to: Margaret Coulter - Development Officer Mercy Works

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