Blaxland High School program has students fixing cars and helping others

An innovative program at Blaxland High School is teaching students how to repair old cars and helps refugees on struggle street in the process.

Teacher Shaun Halden gave his industrial technology automotive class of students in years 9-11, the task of fixing up the electrical faults in “Goldie”, an old Volvo donated by Marshall and Rose Wilesmith from Warrimoo.

“It’s good for them [the students], we try to give them an authentic experience, with a customer at the end of it,” Mr Halden said.

“It’s a good opportunity for kids here who are mostly middle class. It’s OK for them to do something and get nothing out of it but a warm and fuzzy feeling.”

The students worked on the car for a term, and Goldie has gone to refugee Hadi Afravi, who lives in Sydney and has a long distance to travel for work and study.

Roger Grealy from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, said Graeme and Sue Swincer from Faulconbridge had met Hadi when visiting refugees in Villawood Detention Centre.

Aged about 40, Mr Afravi, a Christian, had fled religious persecution in Iran. 

“He did have an old car but it was severely damaged in an accident and he could not afford to get it fixed,” Mr Grealy said.

“Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group was happy to facilitate the whole process.

“Hadi was very happy to have wheels.”

Mr Afravi had been travelling from Randwick to the Sutherland Shire for work in metal fabrication, and then back to Ultimo TAFE to study three nights a week.

This is the second car the Blaxland High students have repaired. Their next project is a 1994 Carolla hatchback, which needs body work and a new driveshaft and timing belt.

“Being an educator I’m all about social justice. The community has been generous enough to help out, and it’s good for public schools to be part of the community,” Mr Halden said.

He said people could help out by donating spare parts, or cars still in rego that didn’t need a huge amount of money spent on them. Contact Blaxland High for more details.