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Afghan refugee gains English skills after being forbidden from education

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Afghan refugee gains English skills after being forbidden from education
 Volunteers go through a NZQA approved training course and are then assigned to a refugee or recent migrant. 
Tutors help the learner for an hour a week with everyday English to be able to participate in Kiwi society, Castles says.
"It's important for our communities to have our new New Zealanders settle successfully, so they have the opportunity to pursue their own aspirations and for their families."
Shanaz and Abdul's first three years in this country have been a roller-coaster ride of emotions, including welcoming two more children into the family. 
Abdul had to take his wife to the doctors because she could not communicate in English, but now she's able to talk to the midwife, and representing further integration progress, she recently went for a blood test by herself.
Esterman says Shanaz can understand a lot more English than she can speak.
"People have been accepting, but it's hard when you're just dumped into another country with no preparation at all.
"One day you're in Afghanistan, the next you're in New Zealand," Esterman says.
"I suppose because she dresses a little bit differently people have a different view about her.
"We went to the receptionist across the road, and she instantly assumed Shanaz didn't speak English," Esterman says.
Shanaz's weakness is numbers, and Esterman says it took weeks for her to read the time.
"I had to take a clock with me everywhere I went," Esterman explains, how she taught Shanaz to tell the time.
"Things Kiwis need numbers for, Shanaz doesn't need numbers for.
"We've done some cooking together and she doesn't use any measurements, which is different to me because I'm so used to following recipes," Esterman says.
Shanaz says for the time being, she's a full-time mum with one child at school, another in kindergarten and the newest addition to the family is five months old.
Once she gains more English skills she wants to apply for jobs. 
She admits it's often hard for her to communicate with her children because they've been brought up in New Zealand, and because they're so young it's easier for them to learn and to adapt to Kiwi culture. 
Esterman recently taught Shanaz about Anzac Day and it's importance to New Zealand.
"It's not all one way, I teach her and she teaches me too. I learned there is an Afghanistan Day and Ramadan.
"I take out children's books from the library so we can talk about the pictures," Esterman says. 
"We started off with very basic books and now we're on level four reading."
Prepositions are the hardest to explain: "Things like about, on, in, they're very difficult," Esterman says. 
Although the role is voluntary and unpaid, she says it's rewarding because "I get to know someone else in my community and learn about their culture".  Stuff.co.nz
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