Wellington Curtain Bank. Making more than just curtains since 2010

March 01, 2019

Wellington Curtain Bank. Making more than just curtains since 2010

Moving to a new place is never easy.

If you've ever had to move house there's a good chance you've complained about it. You have to sort out your belongings, pack what you need, store what you don't, and hope the stars align and that nothing goes wrong.

Physically, it's like running two ultra-marathons up a hill. You're left feeling wiped out. But you'll recover.

That's just one side of moving. Then there's the other side. The side that nobody really talks about. The emotional side.

Meet, Trang Vo. In February 2018, Trang, her then five-year-old son and husband left their home in Vietnam for a new life in NZ. Her husband landed a scholarship to complete his MA in Environmental Studies at Victoria University.

Trang was scared of what her new life would bring. Scared of getting lost, scared that she will not be able to adapt, scared that she would not make friends.

"I could not speak English, I could not hear it. How was I supposed to talk to people? I couldn’t ask for help. I couldn’t even catch a bus” she said.

She missed her home, her friends, her family and her community.

"At the beginning, I wanted to leave. It was so hard. I wanted to go home."

Trang understands social isolation. She's one of those people that has foresight and the courage to never let fear be an excuse.

"Although I was given a work visa, I did not feel comfortable doing a job in a place where I didn't speak the language or understand the culture".

"You know NZ is very different to Vietnam. The work is different, the people are different, and the culture is very different. I didn't know how to do things here in NZ"

Trang did not let her fear dictate her future. She took the first step. She signed up to take English classes. 

Through her English classes, she learnt that volunteering was a great way to get immersed in a new culture and learn a new language.

Her teacher recommended the Wellington Curtain Bank. 

She remembers the first time she met the Curtain Bank crew.

"Initially she didn't want to talk much when she joined the Curtain Bank. I couldn't understand them so how could they understand me? I just wanted to stay quiet"

It has been almost 12 months since Trang joined the Curtain Bank Crew. Now, she says they are like her family.

"The staff were so kind and they just talked to me and now I feel more confident. I even remember when one of the ladies showed me how to use google maps and even walked to the bus stop with me. I remember feeling independent and confident that I could do anything by myself!"

At the Curtain Bank pre-Christmas pot luck she remembers feeling warm and welcome. She said they didn't talk about the work, they just reflected on the year they had shared together.

"I feel comfortable talking to them, sharing my problems, asking for advice.  They're like another family".

"Volunteering at the Curtain Bank was very good for me. My English has improved, I feel confident talking to people and asking questions, I've learnt so much about team-work, time-management, sustainability, recycling and upcycling. I really like how they upcycle curtains and give them to people who need them. It's really nice. I feel very proud of this job"

"[Volunteering at the Curtain Bank] It has changed my mind. Not just the way I think, but the way I do"

Trang is a wonderful woman. She is smart, funny, caring and kind. She knows what it is like to be scared and feel the temptation to run. She also has such profound respect for culture and community.

Coretta Scott King famously once said that "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members."

The Curtain Bank Crew demonstrates these values every day. Their greatness is shown by their commitment to the community.


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