Volunteer profile: Meet Sarah from Melbourne’s inner west

There would be no Welcome Dinner Project if it wasn’t for hundreds of amazing volunteers all around the country who give boundless passion, dedication and love to make people feel welcome in our communities.

Every fortnight, the Welcome Dinner Project – Victoria will profile one of its volunteers. We hope this helps you to get to know us better.

Why I joined the WDP

I really liked the concept of the WDP – it ticked a lot of boxes for me like building community, learning about new cultures, connecting with the newly arrived, breaking down barriers. I also loved the simplicity of the idea – finding common ground by sharing food intentionally – not just sitting down to eat. I originally signed up as a host but when the latest volunteer recruitment drive was advertised, I applied and officially joined the project in January this year.

My favourite WDP memory

I recently co-facilitated my first dinner in Sunshine. One of our guests Mulu, who was from Ethiopia, told us during the course of the evening that she was a singer. To our delight she sang a traditional song at the end of the dinner. It was really beautiful. I saw how the opportunity to share her culture and her singing talent with those in the room built her confidence within minutes. She encouraged the group to join her in the song and afterwards I also saw the impact it had on everyone there – we were all moved. The welcome dinner provided Mulu with a unique platform to share her gift of singing that she may not have found elsewhere – such an incredible ending to a wonderful evening!

A bit about me

I am what you call a ‘bitsa’ – I’m bits and pieces of everything. I was born in New Zealand, grew up on Prince Edward Island in Canada, moved to the USA then back to New Zealand then finally moved to Melbourne where I’ve been living for the past 13 years.

My travels have also taken me to South East Asia, Guatemala, Turkey and Kenya. A few years ago as a trained theatre nurse, I also spent a month volunteering on a floating hospital in Sierra Leone and helped care for patients in an orphanage and women’s prison. I also volunteered briefly in Kenya where I taught science to high school students in local boarding school.

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