Archive for February, 2013

My Volunteering Story

I have been in this country for one year. When I arrived in October 2011 I was 17 so I was too old to get a place in school. I was looking for something to do to learn English and learn skills because I have to get a job; I have to do something. I finished 2 English levels at Heba in 6 months because I did voluntary work in the office and the classroom so I got more English practice.

Then in October we went on excursion to another organisation, Praxis. It’s near my home. I like this organisation; they have many different courses there. I wanted to volunteer there because I already know Heba and I want to keep on learning something new. If I want to get a job I have to know about work in more than one company.

Anne said the lady at Praxis could find me a volunteer job on reception there. Now I am volunteering at Praxis every Friday. I am learning a lot of things and meeting a lot of people. I am finding out what people do, what services are in the community. I know what different jobs are in this area.

I am still volunteering in the office at Heba. With help from Heba and Praxis, I have managed to fill my week, every Monday to Friday morning and afternoon, with volunteering or learning. It’s not the same as being in school but it’s much better than nothing.

I noticed that when I am shopping, when I pick up my little brothers and sisters from school, when I take family to the doctor, everyone speaks to me in Bengali – so how can I learn English? I need to be in a place like Heba’s office, or Praxis reception, to hear English being used in real life. Customers speak to me in English, I answer the phone in English. At Praxis there is only one Bengali, and he speaks English very well. Most people there are Arabic speakers, so we speak English together.

So I am learning skills I need for work but the main thing I need for work is English and I am learning English at the same time. If I don’t volunteer at Heba and Praxis, I can’t learn English quickly like this. If I don’t volunteer at Heba and Praxis, what do I know about working and how can I get a job?

Next month, when I have more experience, I am going to do a presentation to other women at Heba. I am going to show a video of me and people from many countries in Praxis who went to see special places in Brick Lane. I am going to show photos of me working on reception at Praxis. I can show people that this is a good experience. Anne says I can explain my experience better than she can because people will believe me. A year ago I didn’t speak English and I had never worked on a computer in an office or even answered a phone in an office or on reception. Now I can do all these things.

By Ruksana

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