Ellenbrook local Tracey Cave had always wanted to do something community-oriented. But it wasn’t until she saw a fellow Mum, who was a migrant struggling to manage her child’s education, that the spark was finally lit.
The immigrant mother had very little English skills, so things like collecting and reading her child’s report card, attending parent teacher nights, and being involved in their schooling, were virtually impossible.
“That is when I finally got the inspiration,” said Tracey, the founder of social enterprise Sister Project in Perth.
“She had five children, this one was her third, and the older two had gone all this time without any input or knowledge from their mum on how their education was actually going. I realised I had to act and do something to help.”
Tracey quit her job as a primary school teacher, became a youth officer with the City of Swan, and the journey only went upwards from there.
Through connection, skill sharing and entrepreneurship, Sister Project’s mission is to support and empower women from diverse backgrounds to improve their confidence, wellbeing and sense of belonging.
They meet weekly for English classes and workshops where women can teach, and learn, new skills. In a supportive setting, they provide a place where women can learn arts and crafts and cooking styles, all the while practising their English.
Sister Project also provides a platform where migrant women can sell their art, crafts, and cooking through markets and social media. Ultimately, it helps migrant women strengthen themselves and their loved ones.
What do these efforts mean to Tracey?
“It means everything. I spend every waking minute on it. I’m a volunteer but it’s my passion,” she said with a smile.
While many of their growing membership come from India, Sister Project’s other members come from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds such as Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Zambia, Zambia, Ghana, the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Burma.
I met the social enterprise at an art opening in Ellenbrook, where they’ve collaborated with the gallery to provide catering at some of their openings. I sampled some of their delicious international food: samosas, pokhara, baclavas, halva, and chai – and their smiling faces and cultural attire only elevated the mood of the event.
“I see so much amazing things happening over the next 12 months for Sister Project. More employment training, trauma training, domestic violence support, more multicultural activities, yoga, meditation and having our own permanent space,” said Tracey.
It isn’t always easy for migrant women to adjust to a new life in a different country. But community-oriented programs like Sister Project are doing their part to empower and equip these women to help themselves.