Can she start tomorrow? | ELPNZ

Can she start tomorrow?

21 April 2011

Maria Work and Re Ber Paw Sein forged a dream partnership.

Re Ber arrived in Palmerston North five years ago after 22 years in a Thai refugee camp.

Re Ber Paw SeinMaria began tutoring Re Ber, originally from Burma, and was captivated by her warmth. "Her life had been a struggle; she carried 60kg daily," says Maria. "But her eyes and her beautiful smile told me this lady had a wonderful personality, but was also humble.

"Re Ber would say: ‘I need a job. I want to be off the benefit to thank the government.' She didn't want a job to be better off: she wanted to be contributing."

One morning, Re Ber began talking about how she wanted to find work. "I thought, ‘There is no time like the present so I said: ‘Ok, let's get you a job!'"

Bernice Forbes, Re Ber Paw Sein, Maria Work

First stop was Eon, one of the smartest cafes. Maria introduced Re Ber to Bernice Forbes, the manager. It turned out they needed a dishwasher for a few hours a week. Re Ber said, eagerly, that any hours would be fine.

Bernice said: "I know nothing about refugees but I feel we should all do our bit to help them settle, so we will do a trial for a week. Can she start tomorrow?"

Bernice was impressed with Re Ber and increased her hours to 30 a week. Ber is now off the benefit and enjoys her job - extended to waitressing.

"Before it was like all the doors were locked and everything was in darkness and now it is like the lights are all on and I can go in.

From Patricia Thompson's article, Connecting Cultures, Issue 16, (original article by Maria Work)