Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group receives $2000 from RACV to help teach refugees how to drive

ON ROAD: Penny Vine's group has received $2000 from RACV to help teach refugees like Christian Bashimbe to drive. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE
ON ROAD: Penny Vine's group has received $2000 from RACV to help teach refugees like Christian Bashimbe to drive. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

If Christian Bashimbe gets his licence, it will mean his family of seven has access to transport.

The 24-year-old arrived on the Border in February with his mother and five siblings, who fled conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Living in a refugee camp in Kenya, he never drove – taking a lesson with the Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group was his first time behind the wheel.

“It was really confusing, the first time,” he said.

“We can’t do anything without transport and I’m strongly willing to work – driving skills are always required.

“That’s why I’m focusing on learning.”

The refugee group will be able to support eight other people like Mr Bashimbe – who hopes to work in humanitarian aid – thanks to a $2000 grant from RACV.

President Penny Vine said it was the third time RACV had supported the driver education program, helping newly arrived members of the community get their licence.

“Sanctuary does fundraising and the grant from the RACV has meant we can support more people,” she said.

“Many are not very traffic-literate – for the Bhutanese, who’ve spent 20, 30 years in a refugee camp, they’ve never gone anywhere faster than walking.”

Ms Vine said driving was a skill taken for granted and without it, could be a huge barrier.

“If you haven’t got your drivers licence there are many jobs you can’t access.

“The refugee experience is often about feeling marginalised and outside society and so what the RACV has done is really quite significant in helping people feel welcomed.”