Marlar @ De Paul House
De Paul House is very proud of our wonderful volunteer Marlar Thu, who was one of 10 volunteers chosen to represent “The Changing Face of Volunteering”. Please read her story below.
Shoes donated to De Paul House, either too small, or slightly worn, most likely pass through the loving hands of Marlar. She sorts, laces, and cleans them–ensuring children have warm feet for the coming winter. Marlar, as a volunteer, cares about helping families get back on their feet.
Today, as Marlar’s nimble fingers buckle the strap of a black dress shoe, size 3, she tells us about her life in Burma. Years ago, carrying only one bag and her small children, she fled to the jungle. The government hunted and oppressed people like Marlar who supported the move for democracy. Living, and hiding, in the jungle affected her children a lot. After life in a Thai refugee camp, arriving in New Zealand was new and different but not always easy. For several months the sound of an Auckland helicopter overhead evoked fear for the children.
De Paul House provides hope, and help to families crippled by hardship from a lack of resources. Lesley, volunteer manager, says the common denominator here is debt from low wages and high rents. She says De Paul House offers “wrap around services,” teaching courses in financial literacy, computers, CV writing, parenting skills and even exercise. The place is a temporary sanctuary providing a pathway out of desperation.
Soon after settling here, Marlar wanted to show the people of New Zealand her appreciation. “I want to help but I can’t speak English. How can I do?” she asked her support family. The De Paul House volunteer programme was the answer. One year later, Marlar is busy raising five children and working a paid job. But every Monday morning, she joins with the volunteer team and is devoted to sorting shoes, folding clothes, and helping those who are now living a life of homelessness, as she once lived.