A group of newly arrived gardeners have channelled their shared love of gardening into formal qualifications.
Yousef is one of five Friendship Garden participants who recently completed a short course in horticulture and will be receiving a Statement of Attainment from Padstow TAFE.
Created in partnership between SSI and Cumberland City Council, the Friendship Garden is an inclusive community project where people from all walks of life bond over their shared experience and love of gardening.
Yousef, who is seeking asylum in Australia, has been coming to the garden for two years and is now an avid contributor to the garden’s growth.
While he faces social, economic and language barriers, his confidence has soared, his English skills have improved and he has gained new skills in the garden.
Through Friendship Garden activities, SSI has helped Yousef and others reach their potential and, more importantly, pave a pathway to a better future.
SSI Community Engagement Practitioner Diana Nguyen said the Friendship Garden became a more formal classroom this year, when the horticulture short course was held on site.
“We looked at ways of filling the gap to ensure successful outcomes for the students and TAFE, particularly for people like Yousef who struggle with the language and transport. “Transport to Padstow was a barrier, so we proposed that the course to be delivered at the Friendship Garden in Auburn.”
Yousef and other gardeners in the course were supported by SSI volunteers who offered their time and skills in community languages and ESL teaching.
“We adopted a holistic approach, by utilising the skills of SSI volunteers to support the community members through the course,” Ms Nguyen said.
“As a result, they were able to attain a certificate of completion and thereby increase their motivation and confidence.”
Find out how to become a Friendship Garden volunteer.