We recently had a mother come through one of our playgroups. She and her husband had gone through a very tough financial situation and didn’t have enough food to feed their children. It was outside of our normal hours of operation but we provided them food to last the month and offered to help connect them to other partner organisations who could offer support in the other key areas of need.
Our playgroup program is not only about the children. Through our Playgroup we bring our community together and promote understanding. We have seen so many mothers and children make friends. What is more exciting are those who are new in Dandenong either as refugees or disadvantaged in some way. In that social cohesion they are giving support to each other.
Our schools programs have connected with a wide array of young people in our community and we have noticed an increasing connection in our schools programs with teenagers who have recently migrated to Australia. We love that on top of our focus of encouraging teens to make positive life choices we can also help migrant teens assimilate into the diverse social settings within their schools. There are countless stories of this happening but one we have observed recently is of a boy who attends one of our school programs near Dandenong North. When he migrated to Australia he spoke minimal English and skipped school a lot because he struggled to connect with other teens due to language and culture barriers. He started attending our lunch program at his school and was able to observe how to engage with other teens in a healthy way. His English has now improved and he has chosen well in regards to the people he spends time with. We have loved watching just how much our programs have helped him as a disengaged migrant teen to assimilate into our community in an effective way.
We recently had a single mother with 4 kids (one as young as 18 months) who had been forced from her home. She ended up in a temporary living situation in a caravan park. Needing food, clothes and shoes we were able to not only meet the basic needs but to link her into other support avenues from not-for-profits that work within the broader Dandenong community landscape.