During these difficult times, we have seen so many wonderful examples of true kindness and the giving spirit of the community. People are donating their money and time more than ever to give back and support those in need. One of our favourite examples is Bayarmaa – an international student from Mongolia studying in Australia.
When COVID-19 hit, she lost her job and as an international student was not able to receive government support. Bayarmaa turned to food relief at the OzHarvest Hamper Hub in Darling Harbour, which distributes nutritious fresh food and dry goods to people doing it tough. To show her gratitude and pay it forward, Bayarmaa now volunteers for OzHarvest. We chatted to Bayarmaa about her experience and becoming a volunteer.
As an international student, how has the pandemic affected you?
When all this started happening, I was finishing the first year of my Masters degrees. At first, I lost one of my two jobs. Then my rosters became shorter, at one point I was working only three hours a week, meaning I wasn’t able to earn much money.
Around this time, my classes went 100% online and the university encouraged us to go back home and study online, but by then my country was not receiving anyone from abroad. Going back home wasn’t an option for me.
How has OzHarvest and the Hamper Hubs helped you during this time?
The OzHarvest Hamper Hub helped me when I was not able to cover my basic needs. This meant a lot to me at the time as I didn’t need to spend much money on groceries, and that allowed me to cover other necessary costs.
Why did you decide to volunteer with OzHarvest, and when did you start?
The people who were working at the Darling Harbour Hamper Hub were so friendly and welcoming. After registering to receive food a few times, I said to myself, “I want to do something for them. I don’t just want take and take, I want to show my gratitude.” That day, I signed the form for volunteering, had my induction by the end of June and started volunteering in August!
Have you enjoyed volunteering so far?
I do enjoy volunteering – I’ve even been telling my friends to join OzHarvest as volunteers! During the induction, when I learned more about OzHarvest’s mission, I was absolutely and totally hooked. I don’t like to waste food, and I always try to live sustainably, so volunteering with an organisation with a mission so relatable is such a great experience. Sometimes, I dream of starting a similar organisation when I go back home!