As each graduate walks up to accept their certificate, you can feel the enormity of their achievement. These 11 refugee and migrants have just graduated from our Wellington centre’s 18-week Police Recruit Literacy programme.
Pictured in photo: New graduates: Aminudeen Thambi , Moreen Shamoel, Joycelyn Dron, Steven Tamayo, Senior Sergeant Kin Ip (NZ Police), Helen Barnard (teacher), Paw Kler Moo, Synteche Collins (NZ Police), Yusof Rahimy, Remberto Reyes, Zhongtao Chen, Jerry Kwan
Iraqi-born Moreen Shamoel is one of these Police Recruit Literacy graduates and wants to become New Zealand’s first Iraqi trainee policewoman. Moreen has overcome a difficult past and wants to use her own strength and experience to help others.
“I really want to make a difference in other people’s lives, especially women,” says Moreen. “I want to tell them to be strong and stand up for themselves.”
When Moreen first arrived in New Zealand, she could only speak two words of English – yes and no. “I was very scared,” she says. “I had no friends or family support here. I was worried about being thought rude and I said sorry a lot. Now I am more outgoing and not afraid to speak my mind. There is no going back to how things were for me now. I want to tell other women that their lives can change too, that we are in a new country and rules apply.”
Moreen is fluent in English, Arabic, Kurdish and Assyrian and says that this will help her get her message out.
The Police Recruit Literacy programme is a literacy-focussed course to bring participants to the reading and writing level required to join the New Zealand Police. The programme is offered in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington.
Our Wellington centre has had particularly good success with the programme. This, says centre manager Zlata Sosa, is partly due to a strong relationship with the New Zealand Police.
“We have worked hard at this and now it’s paying off,” says Zlata. “This includes having a guest presenter from the Police in our classroom. This really inspires our learners.”
Zlata knows every learner by name, and she knows their stories. She shakes each hand with pride. “This is such a beautiful thing,” she tells everyone. “We are helping people achieve their dreams.”
The New Zealand Police regard this programme highly because it helps them to engage with the changing face of New Zealand.
Senior Sergeant Kin Ip (Charles) from the Police has been hands-on with the programme. This includes getting students into the Police’s volunteer ethnic patrol initiative.
“Our ethnic patrols build our capability because they help us understand this country’s changing culture,” Charles says.
“The definition of safety is different for all, depending on our experience, culture and how we see society. The benefits of having a diverse Police organisation better enables officers to connect with everyone in this country, so that safety has the same meaning for all.”
The desire to help make this country safer is a strong motivation for many participants. When Charles first introduced the volunteer ethnic patrol programme, everyone put their name forward. Charles says he was humbled by that.
“These people have full-time jobs, in one case, two jobs. Plus, they study after hours and volunteer to do their bit for the community in other ways. It shows the best of humanity, that there are so many passionate people out there wanting to help.”
We wish Moreen and the rest of the graduates all the best for their future.