Volunteer profile: Meet Sunita 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.

Role: Facilitator
Hub: Inner West
Joined: January 2018

Why I joined WDP

My first experience with WDP was joining a community dinner at Highpoint as a guest a couple of years ago. I found everyone at the dinner very warm and friendly and from such diverse backgrounds. In the Indian culture we celebrate, gather around food, exchange recipes, talk about food and build relationships around food so it really felt like I was eating with family even though I knew no one.

After that I joined in a few home dinners then Josephine sent me a personal message asking me if I was interested in becoming a facilitator. I thought, ‘yes, I should do that to extend the goodwill and to help expand the project’.

The things I enjoy most about being involved in WDP is that I love getting to know people in my neighbourhood, learning about local groups and how council works and the variety of learning and opportunities that are available aside from the nice food and chatting with people.

Favourite WDP memory

It was the Welcome Dinner at my home in Sunshine. When I told my family that I was holding a welcome dinner at our house, well, they all thought they should go out. They weren’t that interested. However, they decided to stick around, my husband stepped into help and had some wonderful conversations. My son was amazed that there were people at the dinner from such different walks of life and experiences. It was fantastic to see.

During the dinner I met Mulu. She told us that she was a professional singer from Ethiopia and so we all joined in. When music is incorporated, it’s always good. It was joyous and wonderful human nature. I’m so fortunate to meet others, learn from them and pick up extra skills at WDP – there are so many opportunities to get involved.

A bit about me

I moved from India to Australia in 1986 through an arranged marriage. Back then 98% marriages were arranged – families chose your partner for you from same socio-economic background and you trusted them to make the right match. My husband had been living in Australia since he was 14 so he had lots of friends of all different types of backgrounds but when I came to Australia it was my first taste of multiculturalism. When my kids went to primary school in Frankston, they were the only Indian kids there, which was very different for them too – it’s much different now!

In my spare time I love to read, I like watching nature based documentaries like David Attenborough and I also like to exercise. I also really enjoy cooking. My signature dish is chicken curry and the secret to a great curry is making sure to marinate the meat with yoghurt and spices for a few hours before cooking.

For the best Indian food in Melbourne, I recommend Angan in West Footscray and to make your own, go to MKS Spices at St Albans for the best range of Indian spices.

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