Like every parent, Awen – a 22-year-old mother of two – was hoping for positive feedback when she attended her eldest child’s first-ever parent–teacher interview. Awen and some of her family had arrived in Australia in 2006 after fleeing war-torn Sudan for Egypt, where they had remained for five difficult years before being accepted into Australia as refugees. She wanted the best start for her daughter’s new life in Australia.
Upon leaving the parent–teacher interview, Awen was ‘really happy’ because she was told that Apanda, aged five, was doing well in her first year of school.
Awen credits her daughter’s success to their participation in the Brotherhood’s Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) for two years – the first year prior to Apanda starting school, and the second during Grade Prep. HIPPY is a home-based parenting and early childhood enrichment program undertaken each day by parents and their four and five-year-old children. Awen completed new HIPPY activities with Apanda each week, teaching her about numbers, shapes, sounds and reading, all while enjoying valuable time together.
‘When they start HIPPY it helps [the children] to be really good at school and studying. It really helps them’, she says.
Apanda is not the only one benefiting from the program. Awen has gained part-time employment as a HIPPY tutor, acting as a mentor to 10 other parents. She visits their homes every week to help them work with their children on HIPPY activities, building friendships and improving her English along the way.
‘It is good for parents too, because there are different countries in HIPPY and different cultures. I can learn different things every day, which is good for me, and I’m really happy.’
Awen is passionate about the benefits of HIPPY and plans to enrol her youngest daughter as soon as she is old enough.