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Another Country

Before I started with Oxford Hub, I've been a full time mum, at home taking care of children, doing all sorts of up and down, school runs. I’ve been with the Hub for almost a year, as a volunteer. Before I joined, a friend introduced me to the group. She told me it was about teaching people – teaching parents about children, how to take care of the children. Because we are from another country, our cultures are quite different, especially where the children are concerned. I wanted to know that culture she's talking about, because to take your children to a foreign land is quite sad and scary. So I just felt like going to the group to hear what they're talking about, to know how I go about things with my children. So that's how I joined.

I found it like a therapeutic group. Because when you are at home alone, you'll be thinking something that you don't want to think. But when you go out, see other mums, you know that you are not alone, by talking with other people you feel more that you are actually not alone. That's what moved me.

So then coming to Oxford Hub as a volunteer, my manager told me she wanted someone for a group called Parent Power, for women who don’t know how to speak English. Most of them need help for certain areas, sometimes they don't understand, they struggle a lot with their children as well. So she asked me about the idea of being a parent advocate. I think one of the aims is to be able to help advise people, for them to know what to do in a different cultural environment. Because coming from another country, your culture is quite different. That’s why we joined together.

There are lots, lots, lots of differences. Back home we treat our children the way we feel that they're gonna respect us. We call it ‘proper training.’ Proper training is that you see a child doing something bad and you have to punish the child, especially by hitting. But here, if you do that, the child will report you. And the people who get involved will not ask you what exactly the child did. What they're after you about is that you hurt the child. Back home, we are not like that. We feel that training. Back home, children fear to speak to their parents, they will obey what you told them. They have a lot of respect. But coming here, you don’t know that if you do that, it is quite offensive.

So we sit down with the parents, we have been helping many parents. The parents that we got referred to, for instance there’s a mum who is so down and depressed. She doesn't want to go out. She got three children. How the children behave is normal, but if you have missed speaking to other mums, you might think that your own children are quite different. But when you go out you see that what they’re doing is just normal things for children. I went there with my colleagues and she told us all sorts of things: she got depressed because of the kids, she feels that it's better to stay at home, it’s no good to go outside with the kids because of the way they behave. She doesn't talk to anybody, she doesn't have any communication. So she was staying inside. She was full of anxiety so we talked to her, telling her that she has to be coming out to our group, she has to be coming out to join other mums. It’s just the fear that has built inside her, and everybody does the same. So I give an example of mine, I say it's quite normal for the children to behave so. When you go out, you find out that all those anxieties and that depression you're having, they will just go away when you see other mums and you find that you are not alone.

She’s coming now, she loves the group. Her three kids are full-time in school now. She told us she wants to go back to university. She wants to go into health, so I got her a link to Ruskin College, to do her diploma in nursing. Today, she's quite happy. She's doing it.

We have the English class, coding class, science club, exercise sessions as well on a Wednesday. All of them are going well. We try to push the mums to be active together. And many things have changed for me too. Before I started I did find it difficult to speak to people. The work we do, to get to people you have to speak, so this has done a lot to build my confidence. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Are you the one doing this?’

For example, a mum called me, we got a referral from her. She has an autistic child, eight years old. As I said before, she's new to this country, you know, the culture barrier. She doesn't know how things go here. So we try to let her know there is a way to treat autistic children. These babies will shout shout shout shout, and the mum don't know how to cope, so she will shout back. So when we went to their place, saw the way they behaved, we said, ‘We can give you a link for you to study, concerning autistic children, so that you will be able to cope.’ And the information we gave her that day, she followed that. You could see the boy calm down.

When she was new here, she went to school to fill in a form without knowing what the consequences would be, and somebody came to see her, a social worker. She welcomed her with her whole heart, opened herself up, without knowing what she's doing. One day the woman saw some bruises and scars on the boy's body. She asks what’s wrong and the mum, she said, ‘This boy fell down while he was playing football. I didn't beat this child. How could I give my baby such a wound?’ But the social worker insisted they were going to hospital. The mum rang me, crying, saying, ‘What is happening? After all we have been going through and all the lessons.’ I told her to calm down, just calm down and everything will be okay. I said, ‘When the police come, tell them this is what's happening but if they insist on taking you to the hospital, just go.’ They went to the hospital. The doctor examined the child. The school told them this boy did fall down playing football. It was just all fear. It is not new. But after everything I thought we give her our parental handbook. So that she will stop shouting at the children in public. ‘You have seen the land we’re in,’ I said, ‘and when you're talking to them, it is not like back home.’

I think the main thing is just being an active listener, being patient, and not to be judgmental. One of the most important things is that people have a good outcome. I am so happy whenever I help and that person comes out smiling.

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