Juliana was a refugee, now helps Refugee Connect

Interpreter Juliana Gjo (right) with Vietnamese refugees Giang Sung and A Poa Vang at the Refugee CiH graduation – Wellington June 2016

Less than seven years ago, Juliana Gjo arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, from Burma.

Now, after completing a degree, Juliana Gjo has become one of our regular interpreters and family liaison workers. She works with our refugee programme at e-Learning Porirua, helping other refugees find their feet in a strange country.

A welcome in Porirua

Juliana and her parents, two older brothers and an older sister arrived in New Zealand in November 2008, and were settled in Porirua.

Her mother was one of the ‘long-necks’ (also known as giraffe women) with a brass coil around her neck to slowly give the appearance of stretching it (it actually compresses the clavicles and the rib cage). Since arriving in New Zealand her mother had the coil removed.

Computer access helps family stay in touch, learn English, gain skills

Juliana with her parents.

Juliana’s parents both attended a Computers in Homes course with e-Learning Porirua a few months after arriving in New Zealand in 2009.

Juliana recalls how great it was to have a computer to communicate with friends and family overseas and in other parts of New Zealand.

She also remembers how useful it has been with helping her family with learning English and with other education.

Seizing the opportunities

She and her siblings all went on to improve their English and engage with higher education. In fact Julianna has just completed and graduated from Whitireia Polytechnic with a Bachelor of IT degree.

Paying the help forward

We are so happy to have Juliana help with our refugee programme (now called Refugee Connect) and specifically to assist us with teaching refugee Computers in Homes to new refugee families. She has helped with four refugee families over the past year.

Two of these families have been Vietnamese refugees and two families were from Burma, now known as Myanmar. Juliana is married to a Vietnamese man and has learnt to speak Hmong (a language shared across Southern China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam).

It is wonderful to have Juliana as part of our team and to congratulate her on her success.