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Volunteering is my healing process

November 28 2019

CommuniTea Stories at North Richmond Community Health Snowy

👤 Snowy, Volunteer

Coffee/tea order: Decaf coffee

 

“When you give to others, you don’t throw a pity party for yourself. I think volunteering was a healing process for my resentment.

At North Richmond Community Health, I volunteer in the Richmond Seniors Club and the English Conversation Group. I also give additional English classes to some of the students in my own time. I’ve been volunteering here for five years. I also volunteer for the City of Melbourne Tourism free walking tours and visitor centre. I’m like a professional volunteer!

I was born in Belgrade, Serbia and came to Australia when I was six. When I was 19, my parents decided to move to Cape Town and I had to go with them because I wasn’t legally an adult yet. I couldn’t go to university because of the official language so I got a job in sales and advertising, but my real passion was to be a travel consultant. Eventually, I had the opportunity to start my own travel agency. I had my business for 23 years, travelled to 58 countries and learned many languages.

About 10 years ago, I decided to come back to Australia so my daughter (whom I adopted in South Africa) could complete her education here. I sold everything in South Africa – my apartment, my business, everything. It was hard coming back because everything was going great for me there. But, I made a generational decision to come back here, which I’m glad about. I still miss my friends.

Since I sold everything there, I had to work, but it was difficult getting a job at my age. At one point I was unfairly dismissed from my job and represented myself in court. I also became homeless at another point, which I never thought I would ever be in my life. But because of what I’ve been through, I have compassion for people. I now know it can happen easily – it’s not just a matter of, “why don’t they just get a job?”

I’ve overcome everything. Giving back to the community has helped me a lot. In volunteering, you feel like part of a team, you feel appreciated, and you build relationships here. It has been really enriching, and even though I can stop volunteering if I wanted to, I don’t want to stop. I don’t know when I’ll stop and I’ll just carry on because I enjoy it.”

 

#CommunitTeaStories 

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