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It’s one of those rare sunny days in Palmerston North and Victoria Esplanade is filled with the sounds of children playing. Among them are 13-year-old Katie and 5-year-old Habiba.
Katie acts like an older sibling who’s taking her babysitting duties very seriously, following Habiba around the playground and making sure she doesn’t injure herself.
But they aren’t sisters.
The girls met when Katie’s mum, Karen Jones, signed up to become a refugee support volunteer with Red Cross.
She involved her teenage daughters, Katie and Tracy, after finding out she’d be supporting a family of four on their resettlement journey.
“I’m a solo parent so everywhere I go the girls come with me,” Karen says. “They’re very interested in volunteering though and are enjoying the experience.”
Karen and her daughters have formed a close friendship with the Shafi family as they’ve helped them resettle in New Zealand.
Together the Jones family has introduced the Shafi’s to Palmerston North life; navigating buses and shopping centres, visiting parks, and sharing meals.
Both the Jones’ and the Shafi’s say it’s a friendship that will continue beyond the volunteer placement period.
“They’re really lovely to work with and help,” says Karen, “we’re like one big happy family.”
It’s good people doing good things, like Karen, Katie, and Tracy are, who make Red Cross programmes so successful.
If you’d like to become a refugee support volunteer in one of our resettlement locations, you can find out more here.