Mentoring migrants to reach their full potential

What's your secret weapon for getting a job? A strong resume? Great interview skills? For some people a volunteer mentor is the trick.

Truphena shares her experience as a volunteer mentor

Moving to a new country isn’t easy, and finding a job is an important step to help newly-arrived migrants settle in to their new life, make friends, learn new customs and earn money so they can establish themselves. Though for many hard-working, dedicated people, getting a job isn’t easy. 

When Elisha arrived in Australia in April 2017 from Tanzania, he set about looking for work and studied aged care.

“I applied for so many jobs I was losing hope,” says Elisha. “I started to think maybe there was something wrong with me. You lose the desire to keep applying.”

Feeling disheartened from the ongoing rejection, Elisha discovered the InWork Australia program at Red Cross, where volunteer mentors provide one-on-one advice to migrants looking for work to help them secure employment.

Elisha was paired with Truphena, a woman originally from Kenya who migrated to Australia in 2004.

“After meeting Truphena I was recharged,” says Elisha with a beaming smile.

Truphena has found being a volunteer mentor to be very fulfilling.

“She is my good luck charm. As soon as I met her things started happening. I now have two jobs. I just got an offer to be an aged care assistant and I also work at a bread factory.”

Volunteer mentors can be anyone who has experience and knowledge of the Australian job market. They work with their mentee to help them prepare their resume, coach them for job interviews, provide any other practical advice about applying for jobs and boost their confidence.

Truphena is a mother of three who holds degrees in Science, Agriculture and Economics and has worked for the Department of Agriculture and Food in WA. She wanted to share her skills through volunteering and give back to her community. 

“When I started as a volunteer mentor I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I dared myself to request things and suggest things to Elisha and he was very responsive,” says Truphena.

“It’s been a journey of growth but doing it with someone who is willing to grow is really rewarding.”

Elisha was further encouraged to work with Truphena because she had been to Tanzania and they could speak Swahili together.

“You are more than my mentor now, you are my best friend,” he says to Truphena with a heartfelt smile.

You are more than my mentor now, you are my best friend.
Elisha - InWork Australia participant

“She’d say Usiogope which means ‘don’t be afraid’ in Swahili.”

“She would say to me ‘I’ve been where you are before, don’t worry, I will help you. I’ll show you how to work on it. I know the Australian system’,” he recalls.

Truphena has found the volunteer role to be extremely rewarding and flexible to suit her lifestyle as she raises her family and completes yet more studies, this time in youth work.

“We had a really easy working relationship. We didn’t always meet, sometimes we’d text, sometimes we’d call each other. It wasn’t taxing on me and my resources.”

Thanks to her support, Elisha has begun his life in Australia with confidence and pride.

Become a volunteer mentor and help other migrants like Elisha get the step up they need to reach their full potential.  

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