The medevac refugee helping vulnerable people furnish their homes

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar (C) with the co-founders of the Run for Good Project Ben Stammer (R) and Ren Fernando (L) Source: Supplied

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar says he feels “like Robin Hood'' working at the Run for Good Project, a charity that furnishes the homes of people in need.

For the past three months, medevac refugee Mostafa Azimitabar (Moz) has been working at the Run for Good Project, a charity that recycles pre-loved furniture by furnishing the homes of vulnerable people.

He told The Feed about his experience as one of the 51 medevac refugees who were released from hotel detention in Melbourne in January.

After spending close to a decade in detention, Moz got an apartment of his own a few months ago.

“I needed a bed, so Rosanna from Addi Road (Addison Road Community Organisation) put me in touch with the Run for Good Project,” Moz said. 

“They brought the bed to my house and set it up for me as well, we got chatting and they asked if I wanted to work for them and I said sure!”

Moz told The Feed that a lot of the people the charity has helped have been homeless, refugees or fleeing domestic violence.

Moz (front)
Moz (front) at work

As a refugee himself, Moz said he knows how tough it is to get on your feet

“Refugees have the least amount of rights in Australia, we don’t get Centrelink and we can’t study and get qualifications.”

While Centrelink and study options are available to those on permanent humanitarian visas, Moz and many others released from detention are on bridging visas which don't allow this kind of access

“Furniture is really expensive, you have to work for months and months to afford even just a bed and mattress,” Moz said.

Recently Moz helped fellow medevac refugee Emad Moradi furnish his place.

Emad told The Feed he went to the Run for Good Project’s warehouse in Botany but was too shy to choose anything.

Emad's new furniture
Emad's new furniture

“They told me don’t be shy, take whatever you want. They were really amazing and I got a fridge, TV, lounge, table, bed, mattress and everything I needed for my apartment,” said Emad.

Like Moz, Emad was also in detention for close to a decade, and was released from the same hotel detention in January.

He told The Feed that in the 11 months since he was released he’s found it difficult to get his life together, only getting his own place a few weeks ago.

“I’ve had to live at friend's places, it’s not very comfortable, and also the lockdowns for most of this year have been hard,” said Emad.

“I couldn't work or go outside, only in the last 2 weeks have I felt free because I’ve got my own place where I can wake up, turn on the light, go to work and when I come home I’m comfortable.”

BUILT - Run For Good project Ren Fernando
The Run for Good Project founders Ben Stammer (L) and Ren Fernando (R)
Brendan Read

Ben Stammer founded the Run for Good Project with Ren Fernando in June 2020.

Ben told The Feed it started with the goal of furnishing the houses of five women who’d fled domestic violence.

“The community response was so overwhelming we managed to furnish the homes of 40 women,” he said.

The Run for Good Project harnesses the efforts of a group of runners and walkers in Sydney. It relies on good quality donations from the wider community for about 50 per-cent of its furniture, according to Ben.

The Run for Good Project in action.
The Run for Good Project in action.

The rest is made up from corporate donations that come from furniture companies such as Koala and Ikea as well as corporate offices that are moving locations and need to off-load old furniture.

“We’ve repurposed 9000 pieces of furniture, which we estimate is about 90 tonnes of what would have been landfill,” Ben told The Feed.

“You can see how much of a difference it makes in people’s lives - we’re providing a full house of furniture for people to create a safe space and move on to the next chapter in their lives.”

We encourage the people we’re supporting to choose the furniture they want and it is really important to give them the dignity of choice,” Ben said.

Jess Rockwell (R) Moz (C) and Ben Stammer (L)
Jess Rockwell (R) Moz (C) and Ben Stammer (L)
Jess Rockwell (R) Moz (C) and Ben Stammer (L)

The dignity of choice is a sentiment that Moz believes in too; he told The Feed he doesn’t like when people who are in need have to beg for help.

“I believe there are many nice people who want to help but don’t know what the best way is,” he said.

“I think this is the best charity in Australia, the people here really care for those who’ve been through difficult times.”