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Sonu Sharma was so anxious to speak English that her children had to order her morning coffee. Today, she serves it herself.

For a long time, I just stayed home, which was very lonely. I couldn’t really connect with anyone,” Sonu said.

In April 2023, Sonu joined local Mingle-run community activities in Whitlam. Eventually, she felt ready to give speaking English another try. Sonu discovered English classes run by Woden Community Service (WCS) and nine months later she speaks clearly and confidently.

She’s an inspiration and far more intelligent than she gives herself credit for – speaking three languages is quite the feat. Now she works at Whitlam’s Heartbeat Café, a social enterprise café run by Woden Community Service, serving customers, and interacting with a great many people. Everyone who meets her leaves with a smile.” said Anna Howell, WCS Community Development Officer.

If you are in the area or planning to visit the SLA Display Village in Whitlam, feel free to say hi to Sonu while enjoying a cuppa at Heartbeat café. The café is open Monday to Friday 7am - 3pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am - 3pm. Live music at the café every Saturday 12pm - 2pm.

Mingle is a community development program run by the Suburban Land Agency that builds thriving and sustainable communities within new estates in the ACT. Find out more here.

The article originally appeared in RiotACT.