Just months after losing three of her siblings in a tragic crash, Wyndham Vale’s Akoi Chabiet is learning to drive so she can help get her family back on track.
In April, a car driven by Ms Chabiet’s mother plunged into the lake at Manor Lakes, drowning her siblings, one-year-old Bol and four-year-old twins Anger and Madit.
Until the crash, Ms Chabiet wasn’t in a rush to learn to drive and had spent only five hours behind the wheel since getting her learner’s permit.
But with her mum no longer driving, Ms Chabiet, 19, wants to get her licence so she can take her three sisters to school.
One of her sisters, Alual, 6, is diabetic, so Ms Chabiet must catch the bus with her to school.
“Before the accident, I had my learners, but I wasn’t focused on learning to drive. Mum drove us everywhere. Since the accident, I’ve realised that being able to drive is a big deal,” Ms Chabiet said.
“Having my licence will be helpful if [my sister] needs to go to the hospital or doctor. I will be able to help my family day-to-day if I can drive.”
Ms Chabiet has deferred commerce studies at Deakin University to look after her family and learn to drive. She is hoping to get a part-time job so she can buy a car.
A campaign has been set up to help her reach the prerequisite 120 hours of practice as soon as possible, with 10 Wyndham driving instructors so far putting their hands up to donate lessons.
The fundraiser was organised by L’s2P’s Driving School instructor Dee Wilson, after she was contacted by Ms Chabiet.
Ms Chabiet thought Ms Wilson’s school was part of the L2P mentor program, which offers driving lessons to young people who can’t afford them. But the L2P program doesn’t run in Wyndham.
“As soon as I received Akoi’s message, I knew who she was. I was on a lesson in the area on the day of the accident … I had to help her,” Ms Wilson said.
“I put a post on Facebook calling out for help, and some of my friends suggested I set up a fundraising campaign.”
Ms Wilson hopes to raise $4000. More than $1600 was pledged in the first nine days.
She has also started a petition calling on the council to bring the program, which is funded by VicRoads and the TAC, to Wyndham.
She said it was disappointing that the L2P program doesn’t operate in Wyndham because it helped many young people who needed their licence to get by.
To donate to Ms Chabiet’s lessons, visit gofundme.com/zbs6pas.
Click here to sign Ms Wilson’s L2P petition.