From War Torn South Sudan to New Hope in Alice Springs

Refugee Week is celebrated June 16-22, it’s a time to celebrate refugees’ contributions to our society and to raise awareness and learn through their stories.

Most days in Alice Springs locals can see an African man pushing trolleys at their local Coles Supermarket, while Ruben says it can be a tiring job, it’s one he’s so grateful to have and one he enjoys.

Ruben Tut and his wife Mary came from South Sudan to Australia a few years ago, they first arrived and lived in the central highlands of Victoria, before moving out to Alice Springs with their two children.

Both Ruben and Mary religiously attend their Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes at STEPS Education & Training in Alice Springs to improve their English language skills, and some mornings can be seen knocking on the classroom door, eager to start their lessons.

STEPS Business Manager Philip Allnutt says he admires Ruben’s tenacity.

“The way Ruben is so dedicated to improving his life is extraordinary,” he said.

“He has such a great personality, and a real sense of humour, but it’s his dedication to learning and improving his family’s life, that is a real stand out.

“He wants to learn and is so committed, he hangs off every word his AMEP trainers say.

“In his 51 years, he’s seen a lot and also been through a lot,” Philip said.

Philip says Ruben’s journey has been remarkable, from a construction background in war-torn and repressed South Sudan to life in Kenya, working for the United Nations Command Rear in refugee camps, then to Australia, he’s emerged with a spirit and kindness that is truly admirable.

“I worked with the United Nations back home supporting displaced families with food, housing and tents,” Ruben said.

“The UN employed me to build concrete foundations, and housing, running a crew of 20 workers helping the South Sudanese refugees.

“All the Somalian, Ugandan, Congolese, Ethiopian and Eritrean became refugees and lived in Kenya.”

He says he loves Alice Springs’ life and that his main aim now is to better his English through his AMEP studies to progress up the ladder in employment into a career in the disability care sector.

“I need to learn, I benefit from practising my reading, writing, talking and listening at AMEP”

“I like using the computers at STEPS and learning about the jobs in Alice Springs.

“I’m getting help in class to help improve my English so I can study for a new career,” Ruben said.

When looking for work previously he was faced with severe language barriers until he discovered the assistance available to him and his wife Mary through their AMEP classes.

Ruben believes it’s important for migrants and refugees new to Australia to go to English classes.

“It’s very important to come to class, if not, you’d become lazy and won’t get a job,” he said.

Ruben is a very busy man that spends long days studying and nights working until late into the evening, but he says he always makes time for a few hobbies too.

“I come to AMEP class at 9am to 2.30pm, then work from 3pm until 11pm as a crew member at Coles.

“When I finish at 11pm, I go home and watch TV to relax; when I finish watching TV, I go to sleep.

“I like to watch TV and listen to the news, I like watching football, I support Manchester United and Juventus, and I like running very much,” he said.

His advice to other migrants new to the area is to make use of the services available such as joining the local library to borrow books and use the computers.

“It’s very quiet there and good for study and learning.

“Alice Springs’ life is a very good life, people are free and safe.

To learn more about free English classes in Alice Springs and Darwin, go to www.stepsamep.com.au or call 1300 585 868.

The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

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