When young mother Wei-Lin Mai first moved to Warrnambool in 2011 she feared it was the start of a lonely existence.
However the Chinese national soon learned to immerse herself in the community by joining a number of multi-cultural groups, including studying in South-West TAFE’s Adult Migrant English Program.
Mrs Mai can now thank the seaside city, for giving her a husband and a daughter, now aged three.
“I have met many mums with different cultures since I have been in Warrnambool,” she said. “And I have created many new friendships.”
This passion for multiculturalism has since led Mrs Mai to put her hand up for a new role with Villa Maria Catholic Homes.
“I heard about VMCH through TAFE,” she said.
“They are a not-for-profit aged and disability services organisation who want to offer support for seniors from diverse backgrounds living in the area.”
Ms Mai, a Chinese translator who also speaks Japanese, said Warrnambool had been identified as an area that could benefit from the program.
“According to the 2017 Census there are 706 non-English speaking households in Warrnambool,” she said. “Almost half of them, 314, are Mandarin-speaking households.”
Ms Mai is preparing to host weekly meetings, including community outings, cultural events, exercise classes, bingo, games and singing to Warrnambool’s Archie Graham Community Centre on Timor Street.
The weekly sessions for seniors aged over 65 will include lunch and activities for a $10 fee and begin February 16.
“It is very important to have friends,” Mrs Mai said. “To avoid loneliness and depression, to connect with your community and also to feel a sense of belonging.”
The Multicultural Social Support Group will begin its program by launching an open day on December 15.
Organisers say they are hoping to encourage community members to attend and see what they can gain from joining the group.
The free event will include a range of activities between 10am and 3pm.