With the COVID situation easing in Queensland, life is slowly getting back to normal. However, many families are still struggling with a diminished economy. Salt and Light Food Relief Program (SLFR) besides delivering food parcels to the less mobile, also distributes food every Thursday to groups mostly made up of migrants, people who were laid off during the COVID situation, international students, etc. Each week, at least 15 to 20 families or individuals have benefitted from the Thursday’s distribution. One such individual is a 75-year-old retired chef, Jenny.
Jenny used to work as a chef in a local prison, where she taught inmates how to cook. However, due to a knee injury, her work was put to a halt three years ago. She came to know about Thursday’s distribution from her daughter who came across a Facebook post by Sunrise day-care. In the five weeks, she has been with SLFR Program, she has in turned blessed many others in her community. The food she collects, she prepares and delivers them to the less mobile in the community she lives in. One such beneficiary is a gentleman who suffers from polio and is not able to cook, what more head out to get groceries. When asked if there were ways to help her, she said “It is times like this that we have to show kindness and care for others. I am doing it because I want to.”
If you are interested in volunteering or making donations, do contact Ezmond at (07) 37140315 or at email@example.com. Help is always welcome!
By Jerome Ng
Originally celebrated in 1986, Refugee Week aims to raise awareness towards the positive contributions refugees have made to Australian society, as well as the many issues they face around the world. First organised in Sydney in 1986 by Austcare, Refugee Week has provided a platform to better create a culture of welcome between the various communities throughout the country.
The aims of Refugee Week are:
- Educate the public about the who, where and why the refugees came to Australia
- Help people understand what challenges refugees faced when coming to Australia
- Celebrate the refugees’ contribution to shaping today’s Australia
- Focus on improving better interpersonal cohesion between refugees and the various community
- Provide a platform for communities to do something positive not only for refugees in Australia, but all around the world
- Allow various service providers to use this time to reflect on what they have been providing them, and how they can better their service
Each year, Refugee Week has a theme to celebrate. In 2019, it was “A World of Stories”. This year, the theme was “The Year of Welcome”. With Covid-19 hitting the shores of Australia, this year’s celebration was held for the first time virtually. Partnering with SBS Food Online as part of this year’s ‘share a meal, share a story’ initiative, participants were able to stream and cook along with individuals and families from refugee backgrounds, as they learn of the story behind the dishes.
This year’s Refugee Week took place from June 14 to June 20. If you missed it and would like to know more about this event. Do check out refugeeweek.org.au or wait next year.
By Jerome Ng
In late 2019, the Unidus Hands of Hope English Class (Advanced Level) ran a series of lessons on Australian English. It was taught by one of our volunteers, Ben Ley, and was very well received and thoroughly enjoyed by the students. When the teaching series ended, we asked the students for what they would like to learn next.
We received an overwhelming response from them – their main goal was to obtain paid employment in Australia. Being new migrants who did not have many connections, this was a huge challenge and many had begun to despair of ever finding a job. They had registered for the Australian English class in the hope that they could better understand the locals and eventually find jobs.
In 2020, we started a Jobseekers class with up to eight students at a time. Classes were run in Unidus at the same time as the other English classes on 2nd and 4th Monday nights. We covered topics related to looking for jobs, such as cover letters and resumes. We also helped correct their grammar, spelling and content. In addition, we invited speakers from various fields to share their experiences. To date, we have invited speakers from the aged care and accounting sectors. After the speakers had completed delivering talks, students would ask the speakers questions relating to the sector being discussed. This was very valuable to the students in deciding if they were interested to work in the sectors.
We also invited speakers from the Human Resources sector, namely recruiters, to explain the finer points of interviewing and being interviewed. This was very well received; we hope to have mock interviews and invite more speakers in the future.
Due to Covid-19 regulations, we had to stop meeting at Unidus from late March 2020. We set up a WhatsApp chat group for our students to stay in touch and continue providing support to them. We also ran a zoom session in May 2020 covering the topic of video interviewing. We hope to run more online sessions until we are able to physically meet again as a group.
We would like to invite recent migrants to Australia who want to enter the job market to join our Jobseekers class. We also seek volunteer speakers who are working in any field to give talks and field questions online or in person. To find out more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Maureen Yeow
Mental health is often associated with mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. It is often misunderstood and misinterpreted by many. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which each individual realises his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Hence, mental health is more about how well a person is, rather than how problematic a person is.
Here are two facts about mental health:
- Around 1 in 5 of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental disorder.
- Almost 800,000 people die by suicide every year; 1 person dies from suicide every 40 seconds.
With Covid-19 hitting the shores of Australia, and many families and individuals in isolation, a simple “How are you doing?” goes a long way. We might be isolated from our usual community, but that does not mean our hearts stops caring. With technology and intentional effort, hope and love can still be shared and spread. You can cook and deliver to a friend or family, play games together online, video-call one another, or even volunteer at your local community centre (Hands of Hope). Good mental health starts from us, and continues when we care less about ourselves, and more about others. Let’s turn ‘I’m alone’ into ‘We’re in this together’.
By Jerome Ng
Good Neighbours team did a Pay-it-Forward BBQ at Pallara Central Park on Sunday, 21st July 2019. It has been an awesome weekend with the neighbours – a beautiful day to be out in the sun, with the BBQ happening and seeing both the adults and the children having fun. Boxes of teas and bubble tubes were given out on that day, and seeing the smiles on people’s faces made it all worth it.
We had more than 60 adults and 70 kids from all ages and cultural background who have attended the event. There were people who have never heard about us or attended our previous event, so it was a great time connecting with new faces.
Last but not least, a massive THANK YOU to the volunteers who have supported us in this event and to the 4 volunteers who braved the heat to do the letter-dropping in the neighbourhood. Without them, this event would have been hard to pull off.
We look forward to more engagements with our neighbours and hope to have more people from the neighbourhood signing up as Street Connectors, so they too would be empowered to run similar gatherings as such.
It all started with a burden to bless and reach out to the Vietnamese and other migrant communities in Inala, a suburb close to Unidus Community Centre in Willawong. After months of planning and discussion with Hands of Hope Coordinator, it came to fruition in January 2017 in Peter and Ruth Truong’s dining room. There she was, looking nervous and excited at the same time – our very first Vietnamese student attending our very first English class!
Fast forward to January 2019, Hands of Hope now has 6 English classes running at the same time on the second and fourth Monday nights of every month. Our students comprise mainly Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean nationals.
We started a beginners’ class for Mandarin speakers in 2018. The students comprised people over 40 years of age from China and included teacher aides from the same age group. It progressed very well, with some students attending Sunday services and other social activities organised by Hope Church Brisbane.
Our children’s class (5 – 12 year olds) grew further in 2018, with parents delighted that their children were being taught while they studied English. We now even have parents with babies coming to class. Our English classes have a distinct family feel to it!
We also started helping some of our academic English students with their resumes and interview skills. In 2019, God willing we hope to continue helping people who are looking for jobs and need help writing their resumes as well as improving their interview skills.
We are grateful to witness the students, teachers, interpreters and teacher aides who have now become fast friends with each other. We have parties several times a year to get to know each other better and just enjoy each others’ company. As a result of this ministry, a Vietnamese life group has begun this year, with all our students being invited to come and learn about the gospel. In response to requests from our students, we may begin an English club soon for them to practise listening and speaking skills as well as make more friends.
Project Team Leader
Hands of Hope English Class Program