Their journey now centres on easing each other through smaller steps. Each step feeding into larger and more long-term goals.
Together as learner and tutor since 2009, this English Language Partners’ duo create sessions reaching beyond simply acquiring new language, and into the shared inspiration of each others’ personal challenges. Bella, tutor, explains: “We want Paw’s new English to eventually help her through shopping trips and public transport to church”.
The victories shared by Paw and Bella include Bella’s daughter, Robella (17), debuting in a Miss Philippines-New Zealand beauty pageant. Another recent cause for celebration was Bella gaining permanent residency; another positive step in the resettlement process.
Paw arrived as a refugee in 2007. She and her family had escaped Myanmar’s dictatorship by boat, to then spend more than a decade in a Thai refugee
camp. In Myanmar she was a rice and chilli farmer, and her working day began at 3.00am.
Paw and her husband, Ka Kwel Plo, are the parents of two adult sons, Taw Naw and Pla Soe. A third, Hero, is still in the Thai camp waiting to rejoin his family in New Zealand. Ka Kwel Plo is partnered with Sly Watungwa.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Sly trained as a home tutor with English Language Partners North Shore in 2010. Ka Kwel Plo is developing his sentence structure by creating his own sentences from reading introduced by Sly. Sly aims at this former farmer becoming “a local resident who can really get about by himself”.
Bella, also mother to older son Toby (20), arrived in 2007. She relinquished her twin professions of special needs teaching and office work in Cebu, the Philippines’ second largest city. She now works for Creative Abilities and Associates, and her current responsibilities include supervising 11 community workers based in a residential home with four high-needs residents.
It’s a challenge fitting in her voluntary home tutor work with Paw, but Bella finds it rewarding, believing the learning goes both ways. Paw is inadvertently drawing out more teaching skills than Bella believed she had. “Being with Paw has also encouraged my own word power to explain things more easily,”
says Bella, “and always with fun and variety!”
She trusts their sessions together are useful to Paw, who simply responds: “God bless Bella.”
Writer Bill Harrison