Beatriz is among many people forced to flee from Colombia due to persecution and violence by guerrilla forces, armed groups and drug cartels. She came to New Zealand as a refugee early in 2014, after she, her husband and children were persecuted by Colombian armed drug dealers.
“My husband is a mechanic and in Colombia, the Black Eagles armed group came to him and forced him to mend their cars. At first they paid him, but after a few months, they made him work for nothing. Then they started going to his work and taking him away to fix their vehicles. It was very dangerous for him, he could not say no, so he had to leave. One night he left and drove to Ecuador on his motorbike.
“When the armed group found out, they had me and my children put under house arrest. Our children, Felipe, Daniela and Camila, are aged 8, 14 and 15 and it was really stressful, especially as Daniela (my middle child) has special needs.
“We couldn’t leave our home for two months. It was scary, but my husband got help from the UN and the Red Cross and they arranged for us to leave for Ecuador too, to stay at a hostel for refugees. We were there for nearly three years.
“When I first came here I didn’t speak any English at all, but I really wanted to learn. I want to speak English with the people I work with and with the many friends I have made here. At first, I had a great volunteer Monique, who came to my house every week to teach me English, and my course is really helping me too.”
Your donation our volunteering with us can make a huge difference to others like Beatriz and her family.
Helping Beatriz to learn English may seem a simple solution, but it’s helped her tremendously – she now balances the demands of studying English full-time, looking after her family and working as a carer for children with disabilities.
“We were very happy to come to New Zealand and to live a normal life. We love it here. My husband is working as a mechanic here and I really like my part-time work caring for people with special needs. My children are all in school and very happy.”
Last year, volunteers like Monique helped 6,600 people throughout New Zealand. But we just can’t reach everyone who needs us. Right now, there are 1,500 learners on our waiting list who need help.
Please donate or volunteer – you can help build a better future for newer Kiwis in their new home – New Zealand.