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Helping migrant women drive their way to independence.

Many of us have had our driver’s licence since we were young adults, and might even take the freedom of being able to drive wherever and whenever we like for granted.

But for many former refugees and migrants, not being able to legally drive is a huge barrier - especially in finding employment. 

Run by Migrant Action Trust, Puketāpapa Community Driving School (PCDS) provides affordable and culturally-appropriate driving lessons, and there is a particularly huge demand amongst female migrants and refugees, who make up more than 80% of learner drivers on PCDS' waiting list.

A recent sample of 50 migrant  and refugee women in Puketāpapa also found only one had her full licence and only three had their restricted. 

With the women preferring to learn from a female instructor/mentor, Migrant Action Trust nominated Amie Maga for a Women’s Fund Award - with the grant to be used towards the costs of training a female driving instructor.

Amie, herself a former migrant, says the support from the Women's Fund has been key in empowering these women to be independent.

"Thanks to the grant, we were able to train Susan Matencio to be a qualified driver instructor and champion mentor for migrant and refugee women in our community. Out of 27 new passers this past year, eight women got their licence with her support."

"Zubeda, a mother of four, can now drop off her kids to and pick up from school and take them anywhere that they would like to go without waiting for their father to get home. She successfully passed the test after lessons with Susan in April 2019."

"An Afghani young woman who couldn't afford the expensive driving lessons with other commercial schools said she would not have been able to pass her restricted licence test without the support of the PCDS team. With her licence she has now found a job and became independent."

"Thanks to the Women's Fund support, PCDS has been able to change lives and improve family well-being one licence at a time."

PCDS is a community-owned social enterprise, where every paid driving lesson provides subsidised lessons to refugee-background learner drivers, helping their whole family become better established in their new home.

You can find out more about PCDS' work on their website.

Photo supplied by Migrant Action Trust.