15 August 2019
Naracoorte community groups lend a hand to widowed migrant
Picture: The Naracoorte Herald
As published in The Naracoorte Herald
Written by The Naracoorte Herald.

Photo: Thanks: Thipphasone Xaysavanh thanks Lion Ian Davey (left) and Rotarian Ellis Roberts for the donations from their community groups.

Donations from two Naracoorte community groups have enabled a widowed single mum to gain a driver’s licence which was otherwise out of her reach.

Laos migrant Thipphasone Xaysavanh has lived in Australia for 12 years, the last few in Naracoorte, but her life took a turn for the worse last year when her husband died suddenly.

While she had an old international licence, Thipphasone’s husband did nearly all of the driving through their married lives.

To add to her new set of challenges, the youngest of her two daughters has significant health problems and has needed to travel regularly for specialist appointments and operations since her birth.

Thipphasone didn’t have enough money to complete the driver training required to change her international licence to a compliant Australian licence.

With only a limited support network around her in Naracoorte, she also found it difficult to access licensed drivers to sit alongside her while she recorded the required driving hours.

To overcome the financial issue, the Naracoorte-based Migrant Resource Centre stepped in and liaised with the local Lions and Rotary clubs, who both gave $500 donations to pay for the training.

Naracoorte multicultural community service coordinator Jenny Stirling said the generous donations had made a huge difference to the lives of Thipphasone and her family.

“As a widow, a single mum and mother of a child with a disability, getting around to appointments and things was so difficult,” she said.

“She is so thankful, and for people like Murray and Julie Burdett, who advocated for her, she can’t thank them enough.”

Thipphasone’s three-year-old daughter Sokhan was born with nodules on her heart valves and almost didn’t survive the birth.

Sokhan also has eye issues and developmental delays which are being addressed with regular complex surgeries.

Now that she has a licence thanks to Rotary and Lions, Thipphasone was able to take Sokhan for her latest surgery in Melbourne last week, rather than relying on others or public transport.

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