Moolay Ta Loh has received the Katanning citizen of the year award in recognition of the time and effort she invests supporting new arrivals to the community. “Moolay has been invaluable in supporting culturally and linguistically diverse families, particularly in the Karen community in Katanning,” Shire of Katanning president Liz Guidera said. Mrs Ta Loh, a member of the Karen community, spent 11 years in a refugee camp in Thailand before arriving in Australia as a refugee in 2008. She spent four years living with her uncle in Melbourne, where she studied aged care. It was in Melbourne she met her husband and had her first child, moving to Katanning in 2012. “When I first came to Katanning in 2012, for me I felt very lonely — not many Karen people and they spoke different,” Mrs Ta Loh said. Many tonal-based languages are spoken by Karen people from Myanmar and Thailand. The regional dialects are grouped into three categories: northern, central and southern. “I found Australian slang language hard,” said Mrs Ta Loh, who said she learnt from American in the refugee camp and they sound very different. The family were drawn to Katanning by a friend Mrs Ta Loh had made while in the refugee camp, who told them of the opportunities the town had to offer. “It was like my dream,” Mrs Ta Loh said. Since her arrival, the Karen community in Katanning has grown, and Mrs Ta Loh has helped members of the Afghan, Malay and Thai communities settle in, translating, and interpreting as well as befriending people. “It can be hard to find work when they haven’t much English,” Mrs Ta Loh said. “It can be quite hard when young mothers have a baby. “I help some of the mothers if they don’t have English, if they have an appointment or see a midwife — most of the Karen ladies, some of the midwives will ring me up.” She said communication and community involvement fostered a sense of belonging, understanding and wellbeing “Most often people don’t know that we are Karen, they call me Korean,” Mrs Ta Loh said, laughing. Mrs Ta Loh said she did not expect to receive the Katanning citizen of the year award last month. “I was very surprised, I thought ‘my goodness’,” she said. “I really appreciate my teacher, Kerry Palmer, and the Karen community, who said congratulations. “My boss was proud of me, I could not thank enough the people who nominated me.” Cr Guidera said Mrs Ta Loh was an asset to the town’s Karen community. “This was shown in the several letters of support from all over Katanning for Moolay to receive this award,” she said When not helping friends and new residents, Mrs Ta Loh is kept busy raising her four children. “It keeps me very busy, morning, after school — a mother’s job never ends,” she said.