Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

Zara’s House Refugee Women’s Centre

Zara’s House Refugee Women’s Centre

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Zara’s House exists to provide a safe and supportive place, where refugee and Australian women in the Newcastle area can create shared experiences, make friends, and share stories and skills.

Zara's House offer a range of support programs, including language classes, citizenship test preparation, women’s health, child development and family relationships, to empower migrant and refugee women and enable them to better settle into the local community.  They are seeking funding to run learning days for the refugee women and children who have been deprived of schooling in childhood learning.

2018 Pitch

Funds raised: $75,000

Sister Diana was pitching for funding for Zara House's Mother Language Literacy Project. During her pitch at TFN Sydney, Sister Di spoke on the issue that newly arrived migrants and refugee women are illiterate in their own language. Meaning they can't properly learn English until they become literate in their native language. 

The Impact…

Most refugees in Australia are fleeing circumstances they had no part in creating, and find themselves in a country that is unfamiliar to them and speaks a different language. Despite undertaking full time studies in English literacy, most of them find themselves still unable to learn and ‘stuck’ as a beginner. This is most prevalent in refugee women who are commonly illiterate in their own language, making literacy in a second language even harder – coupled with a rigid curriculum their learning outcomes remain bleak.  

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Zara’s House was established to not only socially support refugee women settling in Australia, but also to help them in their English studies. What’s more, they are doing it themselves with several of these refugee women being teachers in their previous lives, they are helping themselves. Thanks to the support received on the night, they now have the resources and tools to help refugee women achieve literacy in their own language, so they can learn English.

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“Bibi is a lovely young Afghan refugee. She was married about aged 17 and now has two boys aged 3 and 4. We had been offering classes in Dari literacy, (the national language of Afghanistan) to the women who, even though they had been living in Australia for 5 years and regularly attending TAFE English classes, were still in the 'Beginners' class. For some reason we struggled to get a Dari (Afghan) literacy class going. One day Bibi came to us with a friend to help with interpreting, and courteously explained that for her, Dari was not actually her 'Mother Language', Pashtu was her own family language. Could she offer literacy classes to the other Pashtu ladies. In no time at all the classes were attended by up to 10 ladies on Mondays and Tuesday mornings after English classes. She asked her mother to post her the Government curriculum. She's a fantastic teacher. Last Monday she told me in English without an interpreter that she is beginning to try harder to communicate in English, where before she had no confidence - "I don't care now I make mistake but I better understand" It made my heart sing!!” – Sister Diana Santleben

Read their Impact Report

Learn more about Zara's House

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