Vol­un­teer­ing helps Zam­bian set­tle

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KARINA ABADIA

Imag­ine if you ar­rived in Auck­land with lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of New Zealand cul­ture or the job mar­ket. What would you do?

Mt Roskill man Stephen Mu­londa says what made all the dif­fer­ence to him was vol­un­teer­ing. It gave him an un­der­stand­ing of what New Zealan­ders are all about and also helped him gain per­ma­nent work.

Mr Mu­londa comes from Lusaka, the cap­i­tal of Zam­bia.

He fol­lowed his wife and four chil­dren to Auck­land in Jan­uary last year. The for­mer pub­lic ser­vant en­rolled in a one-year course in men­tal health and ad­dic­tion sup­port at Manukau In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, which he will com­plete in July.

He’s very much en­joy­ing his stud­ies.

‘‘I had an in­ter­est in do­ing some­thing for hu­man­ity. With my Chris­tian back­ground, I thought if I could do some­thing that showed my love for hu­man­ity, it would be re­ward­ing for me.’’

He has par­tic­u­larly liked the prac­ti­cal com­po­nent of the course.

He com­pleted a clin­i­cal place­ment at The Sel­wyn Foun­da­tion’s Gracedale rest home and hos­pi­tal in Mt Roskill and is still vol­un­teer­ing there free time.

‘‘I help the res­i­dents cope with life so they feel loved and feel good. I at­tend to

in

his them, feed them, pro­vide for them and en­cour­age them.’’

Vol­un­teer­ing at Gracedale gave him some in­sights into the New Zealand way of life.

‘‘I’m in a com­pletely new cul­tural set­ting. When I am car­ing for peo­ple I learn about their likes, dis­likes and their val­ues.’’

He finds at­ti­tudes are gen­er­ally more lib­eral and peo­ple are more in­de­pen­dent here.

Another thing to get used to was the food.

The main sta­ple in the Zam­bian diet is maize meal, some­thing which is found in just a few stores here. New Zealand food has a greater va­ri­ety of di­etary influences and peo­ple eat more seafood and pota­toes.

De­spite th­ese dif­fer­ences he feels at home.

‘‘I’ve not ex­pe­ri­enced any sit­u­a­tion where I felt un­wanted.’’

Vol­un­teer­ing was key to him gain­ing per­ma­nent part­time em­ploy­ment.

The 52-year-old started work­ing at the Gift Cen­tre on Jan­uary 6. It is a Chris­tian res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­ity in Bal­moral which looks af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled peo­ple.

The in­ter­ac­tion with res­i­dents is very sat­is­fy­ing, he says.

‘‘You are deal­ing di­rectly with peo­ple’s daily lives and giv­ing them sup­port in ev­ery way you can. They put their trust in you.

‘‘They ex­pect a lot but at the same time they are very will­ing to help them­selves.

‘‘When they ex­press hap­pi­ness about some­thing I’ve done for them, it makes me feel ful­filled.

‘‘If you have spare time, spend it on mak­ing some­one else bet­ter off. You can open other pos­si­bil­i­ties and ex­pose your­self to the job mar­ket,’’ he says.

Photo: KARINA ABADIA

Newly em­ployed: Mt Roskill res­i­dent Stephen Mu­londa says vol­un­teer­ing helped him se­cure a job.

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