22 Jun Kalee’s Story
When Kalee was in Liberia, girls were often told, ‘You’ll get married so there’s no need to go to school.’ In a family of eleven children, with her father having passed away in the war, Kalee had little schooling. In the UN school in Ghana however, she learned to write her name and the letters of the alphabet. Kalee eventually came to Australia and after some time, made a call to Reading Writing Hotline and was referred her to a literacy class in Darwin.
‘I learned so many things. That girls have the passion to learn and can do anything. Not just having babies for our husbands and not learning. We have many people like that in Africa and heaps of my friends in Darwin are just caught in a cage. They are so shamed and are just doing housekeeping.’
Needing to work, Kalee continued learning by completing a Disability certificate course, however she found it very challenging.
‘I used to beg everyone to help me to do my assessments. I’d call some of my friends’ kids who were in high school and I’d pay them a little money to help me with my writing. It took me 2 years to do it. Then I did my Certificate 111 in Childcare.’
After moving to Melbourne, Kalee struggled to find work. She again rang the Hotline for assistance to find another literacy class. In tears, she described her efforts to write job applications, which she found very difficult. Kalee had recently attended four job interviews, without success.
‘When I apply for a job, they say I’m not competent. I have to do scenarios and maths and I get it wrong. I always pass the interview part where I have to answer questions verbally and the group interviews, but I get stuck on the reading and writing. I know how to look after people. I care for people really well. Everywhere I work, people like me. Just one thing, to write it down, that’s my biggest fear in life. It’s really hard for me.’
Kalee really wanted to be a nurse. The Hotline referred her first to a literacy class, and Kalee was sent some learning resources focussing on English for nursing and preparing for job interviews. The Hotline teacher arranged to keep in touch until Kalee was able to enrol successfully.
‘I want to write.’ Kalee said. ‘I would like to pass this on back home to girls. I will tell my story to people there in Liberia. That girls with a passion can learn. I know I can’t change the world but I can do something.’