Anglicare recently celebrated Muriel Clarke’s remarkable service to her community. The 87 year old has been teaching English to new migrants at Sylvania Anglican Church since 1993 as a volunteer. For Muriel, it was an opportunity that became a passion that would last 25 years.
“There is always issues when you are first settling into a new country. Homesickness is something I can relate to,” she says.
“When I retired, the minister’s wife at our local church asked if I’d be interested in teaching English to new migrants. I am so pleased I said yes, because I have been blessed more doing this work than I have been a blessing.”
Muriel arrived in Australia from Suffolk, England, in 1957. Her husband of six months was offered a job in Australia and she accompanied him. She spent her working life as an administrative assistant in different companies before retiring. They bought a place in Sylvania in 1960 and stayed.
“Being English and a migrant myself, I had a heart for people who were new to this country,” Muriel explains.
“When we are born in a place, we have deep roots there. A part of us will always be of that country. When we move to another place, for a time our roots are exposed and raw as we settle into a new environment. That’s when we need a friend.”
Muriel’s first student was someone who had just moved to Australia. She was illiterate in her own language, let alone English. She was desperate to invite her neighbour over to her home, but was unable to do so because of the language barrier.
Muriel soon found that she was doing more than teaching the basics of reading, writing and speaking English.
“I found I was meeting a social need and a need of the heart. The more I taught the more I realised this was something the Lord had put on my heart to care for others in this way. He has used me to this day. It wasn’t just another language group, but a way for people to care for each other holistically.”
Muriel will be celebrated for her 25 year service to the community on the 19 January at Anglicare’s English as a Second Language (ESL) training day.
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