Mu Dah goes from Thailand refugee camp to Griffith Campus TAFE graduate

Mu Dah knew what it was like to fight for scare water allocation long before she arrived in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Growing up as a refugee in Thailand, her only access to water was via the one tap installed by the UN at the other side of the camp, where a few litres were shared between dozens. 

“We had to line up all day in the sun to get some”.

Education was an even more elusive luxury. Mu’s parents died when she was a teenager, so she gave up school to look after her three younger brothers. 

But in her new life in Leeton, Mu has had the opportunity to study.

On Wednesday, she was presented with a Certificate III Individual Support in Aged Care from NSW TAFE Griffith campus, a course that enabled her to secure a full-time job at Southern Cross Care Assumption Villa.

Mu was also handed the prestigious campus achievement award from long-time TAFE supporter Ken Cheers

“When I come from, we all care for each other. We are taught to respect our elders. I enjoy caring for people,” Mu said.  

Mu Dah was part of the ‘Karen’ ethnic group forced from their homes in Burma who sought refuge in Thailand. She moved to Australia with her brothers when she was 18, initially to Queensland. She arrived in Leeton in 2011, and since then has struggled in jobs to which she wan’t really suited. 

But TAFE has allowed her to go into something she loves. 

“It was a really hard course for me, because my English isn’t good. But I got a lot of help from my husband and my teacher,”  she said. 

Mu commenced her six course course in January this year. By June, she’d scored a full-time job. 

Mr Cheers said, “she is perhaps the most impressive graduate I’ve met in my 16 years as a sponsor of the awards”.

“When you think about what’s she’s been through, the fact she came here without knowing how to speak English, and has travelled to Griffith three times a week, it’s so impressive”. 

Mr Cheers also said Mu shows the value of a TAFE education – having received two job offers in six months. 

“I look for someone who is going to be a role model… it was wonderful to meet such a worthy student. Mu is a new Australian who has found a place that really wants her”. 

Mu returns the feelings towards her new home 

“It is a blessing to be in Leeton. The people here are so friendly and they’ve made me so welcome”.