Hands on to common ground

Debi Chheti receives instruction on making a toolbox from Frank Lange at the Manual Activities Centre, Lavington, as part of the course for Albury’s Bhutanese community. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Debi Chheti receives instruction on making a toolbox from Frank Lange at the Manual Activities Centre, Lavington, as part of the course for Albury’s Bhutanese community. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

SOME things just transcend language and as it happens, woodwork is one of them.

A group of Bhutanese refugees this week took a break from their regular English classes through Albury TAFE and instead discovered Lavington’s Manual Activities Centre.

Here, old hands at the hammer and saw gave the group a crash course in woodwork, helping each build and paint a basic toolbox of their own.

Centre member Frank Lange said the language barrier really proved to be no barrier at all — armed with a set of plans and a lot of enthusiasm, the two sides found common ground, learning from each other.

“A lot of these guys had worked with hand tools but they’d never seen power tools before,” Mr Lange said.

“Something we take for granted they’ve never seen ... most have spent 20 years in a refugee camp so it’s eye-opener.”

Debi Chheti, 38, came to Australia three years ago with his wife, children and parents.

It’s been tough settling in and even tougher finding work but he hopes such courses will help.

“I love to learn how to make new things and maybe will keep learning to be a builder,” he said.

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