Afghan refugee families settling in

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Three Afghan refugee families are currently settling into new lives in Ashburton.

The first family of five arrived here at the end of May and since then two more families of four have made the district home.

Ashburton Settlement Support Services team leader Kathy Harrington-Watt said the families all had children who were now enrolled in local schools and kindergartens.

“It has been amazing to see how keen they are to attend school and how quickly they have adjusted.

“This is also a reflection on how well prepared the schools have been and their warm and welcoming approach to their new students.”

She said refugee parents were also quick to want to start attending English classes and were slowly working out their new environment.

“Each family has a group of volunteers wrapping around them who are doing a great job helping them navigate their new home and learning about kiwi culture.

“The volunteers are also learning about Afghan culture and are enjoying getting to know families and showing them around our district,” Mrs Harrington-Watt said.

It had been an exciting time getting to know the families and working out how best to support them.

Another Afghan family is expected in Ashburton in the next few weeks, she said.

Ashburton’s Afghan families will travel to Christchurch this month to share in the religious occasion of Muharram, which marks the start of the muslim calendar and is the second holiest month for muslims, after Ramadan.

Muharram started on August 10 and families will visit the mosque and join with others from the Afghan community.

Ashburton Settlement Support Services is currently looking for extra bedding and kitchenware to help set up new homes for families before they arrive. Donated items can be dropped to Donna Collins at St Vincent de Paul.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the service can contact Wendy Hewitt at wendy.rsvolunteer@nullsafer.org.nz

-By Mick Jensen