Puketapapa Driving School working with refugees, migrant solo mums to help them get licences for Mother's Day

An Auckland social enterprise is hoping to give the gift of independence for Mother's Day this year.

The Puketapapa Driving School is working with refugees and migrant solo mums to help them overcome the language and financial barriers of getting a license.

Sarah Uchai moved to New Zealand from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is busy getting road-ready.

Although the lockdowns have delayed her progress, she's determined as ever.

"I'm on my learners, I'm working towards my restricted. I really want to get it. That's my goal, before July, I need to have it," she told Newshub.

She's learning to drive thanks to the generosity of the Puketapapa Driving School.

Waka Kotahi recommends at least 120 hours of driving before sitting a restricted driving test. But this can be challenging for migrants and refugees who often have no access to a car, no driving mentor and no money to pay a driving instructor.

It costs the school about $1000 to put one person through the programme and the driving school is trying to fundraise $10,000 on Givealittle to give 10 women the opportunity for Mother's Day. 

The Driving School's manager Amie Maga is a migrant herself, and having moved here from the Philippines without a license she understands the difficulties these women face.

"Getting a license helps them to resettle successfully in New Zealand, to get around, gain independence and get job opportunities."

Maga said without help, the financial barrier can force women into dangerous situations.

"We have a solo mum who has been here nearly 10 years now and every day that she is driving, every day she is scared of being caught driving by police on a learner license."

Zahra Ahmadi moved to New Zealand from Iran with her three kids. She's also learning to drive with the school.

She told Newshub how soon she will no longer need to rely on friends to get to doctor's appointments or go to the supermarket.

Both Uchai and Ahmadi agree, their main motivator is their children.

"Now that I'm a mum, I have to look forward to driving to work, school and dropping her off to kindy."

Because learning to drive is one of the keys to a better life.