Arriving in Australia in 2016 with his family, CALDplay participant Meh Poe didn’t speak a word of English.

Spending the majority of his life within a Thai refugee camp, Meh Poe and his family travelled to Australia shortly after his eighteenth birthday.

“We lived in a refugee camp in Thailand for seventeen years,” Meh Poe said.

“I worked all day outside the refugee camp from when I was 13 years old, then I would come back to the refugee camp and study health and community every night.”

Unaware of his new surroundings, Meh Poe attended Victoria University to learn basic English skills, where he was introduced to the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation.

“I didn’t speak English when I arrived, it was very difficult to learn,” Meh Poe said.

“I learnt about the Western Bulldogs through Victoria University when they came to my school and taught us about CALDplay. I was very interested in football because I had never seen it before in my country.”

Joining the CALDplay sports program in 2016, Meh Poe returned to CALDplay a further four times, while also participating in various school holiday sessions and the Leaders of the Pack program.

Crediting the Foundation for developing his English skills, Meh Poe said that being surrounded by others speaking English within the CALDplay program, further assisted his ability to comprehend the language.

“The program has helped me get experience and learn new skills. I met new people and new friends which made me confident to speak English,” he said.

“Without the CALDplay program, I wouldn’t be so confident in my English. It was very hard to learn, but now I am getting better at understanding people every day.”

When considering his future in Australia, Meh Poe shared his plans to further develop his English skills in order to help others in the community who may be struggling to integrate into Australian culture.

“After I finish studying English, I would like to study community development so I can give back to the community,” he said.

“I want to help people like me who don’t totally understand English yet, help them do things like go to the doctors and understand how to use public transport.”

“If I didn’t have the Bulldogs’ programs, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. It has really helped me settle into the country I now call home.”