Having grown up in foster care, this volunteer wants to give back to the community that’s helped him

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It's National Volunteers Week. This volunteer, who received charity assistance as a child, explains why he likes helping those in need in Australia, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Volunteers had a big role in my life, helping me, helping my family,” says 21-year-old volunteer Sam. “There are families who are in the same shoes as I was when I was younger so helping them comes from the bottom of my heart.”

Working as a traffic controller now and having his own income, Sam reflects on some of the struggles his family went through. “I still remember going to school with ripped clothes, one teacher bought me a pair of shoes once.”

He says instead of carrying a school bag he used to put his books in a plastic bag. “Being a single mum, my mum would get the Salvation Army to help us because she couldn't afford it.”

Sam spent a lot of time growing up in foster care. “Certain stuff happened that was unfortunately out of my control, it just made life difficult,” he explains.

There was also domestic violence in the family. While he was in Year 6, Sam was placed with his first foster family, and at the age of 18 he moved out to live by himself. By then he had gone through three foster homes.

“Some people who have been in my shoes have taken different paths, using drugs, going to jail and being on the other side of the law,” he says. “But I am blessed to be doing good instead of bad.”

Sam
Sam preparing food packages to be dropped off to the families in need.
Jordan Osborne

According to Sam, his last foster parents had a big influence on guiding him in the right direction. He also says his religion, Islam, had a big impact on him.

Driving his own car and having his own job, it’s hard to imagine the struggles Sam has previously experienced in his life. Very grateful for the life he has now, Sam says he needs to give back to the community that has helped him, so for the last two years Sam has been volunteering with different organisations. One of the recent campaigns he’s devoting his time to is the Aussie Muslims Food Drive.

The Aussie Muslims Food Drive has been distributing food hampers to Aussies in need during the coronavirus pandemic, with a very wide focus. The campaign is supported and organised by different Muslim charity organisations in Australia.

“We’ve set up a website,” says Aladdin Elmir, the campaign coordinator. “We have been getting requests form single mothers international students who had part time work and no longer have work, people who are in lock down and people who have lost their jobs.”

Aladdin Elmir
Aladdin Elmir says the Aussie Muslims Food Drive has also been delivering meals to the frontline health workers.
Gavin Blyth

Since the start of the pandemic in Australia volunteers in essential services have continued to provide their assistance to the community. “Volunteers have been packing food deliveries, checking in on the elderly, supporting families and helping others through these tough times,” according to Volunteering Australia.

Sam has been one of the many volunteers who have been packing and delivering food to the families in need. “ He has been a very active volunteer,” says Aladdin.

There are no plans for Sam to stop volunteering any time soon. “I will be volunteering for the rest of my life I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life until the day I die.”