This Aussie School is Giving Cars To Refugees
While most students dread assignments, Shaun Halden's automotive technology class can't wait to get into their major project.
"It’s been completely positive. Any student who has volunteered for it, they put everything into and work really hard," he told ten daily.
Halden's students at Blaxland High School, in Sydney's Blue Mountains, aren't just tinkering with spark plugs or headlights. Their assignment is to fix up donated cars, which are then donated to refugee families.
"They got a lot out of it. Everybody involved sees it as a positive," Halden said.
Halden's industrial technology classes usually work on cars in poor condition, but recently a student's parents donated a vehicle in good condition. Halden started asking around to see what they could do with the car once it was fixed up, and was linked up with Roger Grealy from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. The group was hoping to find cheap cars for refugee families in the area, and sparked up a connection with the school.
Blaxland High students have now donated three cars to needy refugee families, with at least two more on the way.
"The family were thrilled. They've got no car, they're out there stranded in the suburbs. It’s pretty big," Grealy said of an Iraqi refugee family who this week received a Toyota Corolla.
"It has given them some social mobility, rather than being stuck at home watching TV all the time."
Meena, the 22-year-old daughter of the family, told ten daily she and her parents were "super happy" with the first car they had ever owned.
"Now we can travel to the doctor, we will not have to call an ambulance when dad is sick. We can drive to the supermarket, we can go for a drive to have fun," she said.
"We do not have to go to the train station and catch two trains and a bus to get to places."
Halden said he almost had too many cars to deal with at the moment, after six were donated after the first car rolled off the school production line. A Nissan, Volvo, Holden and Kia have also been given up to his class, with two more cars set to be gifted to families this week. A local automotive company has also chipped in, giving big discounts on spare parts to fix the cars.
"I’ve got students lining up to work on them. My major issue is I don't have enough space to work on them all at the same time," Halden joked.
"We have a very altruistic population of students at Blaxland High. We do lots of charity events and help the community. It’s good for everybody."
"The students get satisfaction from the work they put into it and a better education because they're having an authentic experience. The refugees get a car and hopefully a better footing for a better life."
"We’ve had a lot of support from the community, it’s been fantastic. It wouldn't happen without the support."
Grealy said the project was a big boost to his group and also local refugees.
"They're so appreciative. It's a massive uplift. It makes them think Australia has good kind people," he said.
Halden asked anyone who would like to donate a car, parts or assistance to contact Blaxland High School.