Afghan refugee turns volunteer after Red Cross helped him resettle in Australia

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The Red Cross is urging Australians to take a more active role in their community.

As the Red Cross launches its annual March Calling fundraising campaign, a former recipient of the organisation's assistance has decided to become a volunteer.

Nesar Ahmed Nasiri told SBS News he fled his native Afghanistan because of the Taliban.

"So many times, I was threatened by the Taliban, and my family, too, and they killed my father because he used to work for the Afghanistan government."

Nesar Ahmed Nasiri is volunteering with the Red Cross.
Nesar Ahmed Nasiri is volunteering with the Red Cross.
SBS News

His transition to Australia was facilitated by Red Cross volunteers. Now, he is volunteering his time with the organisation, visiting schools and speaking about his experiences as an Afghan refugee.

"Educating people, talking about my story, talking about kids' rights in Afghanistan compared to Australia, and human rights," he said. 

Red Cross Australia chief executive Judy Slatyer said this year, the charity is taking a different direction with their March Calling fundraising campaign.

"What we have done, traditionally, is ask people to raise funds for Red Cross, and many, many people answer that call."

"What we're doing this year is broadening it out to say not only raising funds for Red Cross, but hold a barbecue, engage your neighbours, talk to your friends, make sure that you're part of the community, helping to build the community that is out there for you."

Ms Slatyer said the organisation's latest survey shows 55 per cent of Australians want to do more to help those who are less advantaged.

"They want to do that, either individually, helping people directly, or through clubs and helping their schools or whatever. But it was really interesting and very warming to see the results."

Red Cross Australia chief executive Judy Slatyer is encouraging Australians to "help build the community".
Red Cross Australia chief executive Judy Slatyer is encouraging Australians to "help build the community".
SBS

In the survey, 53 per cent said people should be doing more, not just thinking about it.

One in three said they believe they can influence issues in their local communities, while 50 per cent were unsure.

One in three respondents said they had volunteered their time, and nearly two out of three had donated money or goods.

Just under half said they had stood up and defended someone in their community.

Ms Slatyer said only 13 per cent said they had taken no action in the past two years.

"The vast majority of Australians are forward-looking. They do want to have an optimistic and positive future, and they do want to be part of communities that strengthen them and that they help to strengthen."

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