Volunteer role: iCan Mentor
My grandfather arrived in Melbourne as an adolescent refugee in May 1939, just before the German invasion of Poland in September that year. His entire family perished during the Holocaust, but as a result of the kindness of families in the Melbourne Jewish Community, he was given a new home and a chance at life. My Jaja is blessed to be celebrating his 90th birthday later this year with family and friends.
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel). Being lucky enough to have had a Jewish education, a tertiary education and to live in a country that is free from persecution, often leaves me wondering how I can give back meaningfully to others.
When a close friend of mine at Jewish Aid Australia presented the iCan project to me, I instantly felt drawn to it and was compelled to get on board. Through volunteering with iCan, I am able to give back to a community in need, by assisting and supporting the education of a small group of enthusiastic Sudanese year 12 students.
‘Did you drive all the way here
[to Dandenong] just for me?’
One week, I had spent an hour and a half going through the ins-and-outs of the university systems; the meaning of a ‘major’ and ‘minor’, how to apply for courses, what you actually get when you finish a degree and what the difference is between a course, a certificate, and a bachelor. I finally took a breath and asked, ‘do you have any questions?’ The reply, ‘did you drive all the way here [to Dandenong] just for me?’ ‘Of course’, I replied. And after expressing the deepest and most grateful thank you, I was asked, ‘how can I get my license?’
These young people simply want to be young people, like everybody else. They have the same interests and wants and needs that are easy for us to forget. Sure, we go over essay writing techniques and discuss study skills, but forging new relationships with these young people has been a particularly special part of this program for me. It is through these relationships that friendship, trust and hope are built, which are, along with hard work and a bit of luck, the foundations for a better future.
Want to find out more about the iCan project? Click here now.