Mama Fe Gillies – Get Online Week 2021
After discovering the benefits of getting online through local support, Mama Fe is now helping others to get the most of life using the internet.
Mama Fe (left) teaching one of her Be Connected students (right).
76-year-old Australian-Filipino Fe Gillies, known as Mama Fe, has gone from being a student to a mentor after discovering a passion for learning online skills when attending local digital skills support classes.
“I thought when you know all the little things, I thought that’s it, you stop. But no, you continue – continue to learn and learn and learn,” says Mama Fe. “I would love to learn more. It’s not enough not to help others – I love to help others to teach them [online skills too].”
Mama Fe started learning how to get online in 2019 through Be Connected classes at Australian-Filipino Community Services in Melbourne after needing help to set up her new phone and watch Netflix on her television. Soon, she found herself hooked on learning more about what you can do online, saying the freedom and convenience of activities like online banking “helped to unlock being online.”
Now, being online is an important part of Mama Fe’s everyday life, allowing her to stay connected with her family all over the world.
“I have a daughter in America and two sisters in the Philippines, and with COVID I need an update from them,” explains Mama Fe. “When I get up, I look right at my phone and I get messages because I have family from different countries.
“We might not be together in flesh, but we are together in communication. Talking online, it helps a lot. It helps a lot with the distance and the loneliness.”
Seeing the benefits for herself, Mama Fe is now an active advocate for getting online. As a Be Connected Digital Mentor, Mama Fe supports over 150 seniors to build their confidence and online skills through classes relevant to their interests and fun social events like online karaoke and virtual dress-up during Melbourne Cup.
“I would like to inspire people to be online. They don’t have to be scared,” Mama Fe says. “They won’t regret being online. I don’t regret it either.”
Mama Fe says seeing her students grow and discover the possibilities of online is rewarding and heart-warming.
“I love when my student tells me, ‘Thank you so much, Mama Fe. I didn’t know about this. Now I know these things because of you’. Saying thank you, you know, they appreciate what I’m offering them,” Mama Fe says. “That fills my heart as an old lady.”
Most of all though, Mama Fe loves seeing her learners embrace the internet and encourage others around them to also get online and get connected.
“I want them to learn for themselves, so they can also help others,” Mama Fe says. “It is a chain reaction.”
“You have to be connected to connect to others too.”
Get connected to online skills support in a fun, supportive environment by attending an event during Get Online Week this 18-24 October. Get Online Week is Good Things Foundation Australia’s digital inclusion campaign which sees hundreds of community organisations run COVID-safe in-person and online events to support Australians to get online.
Find a local Get Online Week event in your area or attend an online event anywhere across the country. Use our event map to find free and friendly support to learn digital skills or call the Good Things Foundation team on 1300 795 897.