Highlight: Naryphol Thach

A former Cambodian refugee has developed a life of great purpose by undertaking courses to build her language, technology and life skills – and then passing her knowledge on to a group of local Buddhist monks. 


Nary Thach came to Australia in 1990 and settled in Dandenong. With no English and her mother to care for, Nary experienced many difficulties and years of isolation and low self-esteem.  But from her first efforts to learn English at Dandenong AMES, Nary has steadily pursued education and knowledge for the past 26 years. “I love studying,” she explains. “If I can get better English, I can get a job and can help other people to also get a job.”


At Dandenong Neighbourhood House, Nary has undertaken English as an Additional Language Level 2 (EAL2), participated in the Intermediate EAL and Advanced Literacy classes and undertaken a Women’s Leadership program. She now teaches English three days a week to a group of Cambodian monks, with up to 12-15 monks in each group.

The city of Greater Dandenong is home to many Cambodian monks who support the temples in Springvale and Doveton. Many arrive in Australia with little or no English and Nary works on both their spoken and written skills. One of the monks moved to Thomastown and still travels to Dandenong twice a week to attend Nary’s groups. “I like to help them and they are improving,” she explains.