Thursday, 1 May 2008

learner's licenses

had a meeting this evening and then a teleconference. during the afternoon, i popped over to shama. they were presenting certificates for women who had just passed their learner's license after a full day course. ten women had attended and included punjabi, korean, thai and filipino women.

it was a big achievement for these women, for whom english is a second language. mobility is a major issue for them. in their countries of origin, good public transport systems meant that they were much more mobile. in india, you can pick up a rickshaw at any street corner and get a reasonably cheap trip to any part of the city. [the human labour element involved in this form of transport is another issue.] but on the whole, these women can easily go shopping, visit the doctor or their friends and relatives.

here in nz, things are very different. particularly in places like hamilton. while the bus services are improving, they are far from adequate, and many of these women have to wait until their husbands come home before they can go anywhere. so having a learner's license is a big deal for them, and getting their full license will be an even bigger deal.

i found that i actually had tears in my eyes as i watched them receive their certificates. for me, it was the sense of a dream coming true. when we set up the centre, we had a vision of what we wanted to provide for women from an ethnic minority. it's been a very long haul, but today i saw that vision had become a reality and it really meant alot to me.

next step is to get some secure and decent funding so that we can continue to grow the programmes.

for those in hamilton, don't forget the movie at the migrant resource centre (boundary road) this friday evening at 7pm. it's called "the shape of water", and is about women activists who have made significant changes on major issues like female genital mutilation (africa), privatisation of the water supply (south america), and the using up of underground water reserves by the coco-cola company (india). i heard the producer, kum kum bhavani, speak last year about making the film, and she is one totally amazing woman. hope you can make it.

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