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The lessons learned from charitable work

  • 19 August 2017


We students go to school to learn. But one of the best learning experiences for me has happened outside school: helping the less fortunate by serving them food at the Sacred Heart Mission and collecting food necessities for the charity.

From a young age we are encouraged to perceive the less fortunate according to how they dress and how they live, and not by the way that they are. These stereotypes are simply wrong: we are all the same, irrespective of our living situation. It is a false labeling based on status and inequality. No-one should be given a label; often it is simply that people have not been given the opportunity to do the best they can.

Initially, I expected the experience to be a bit bland and perhaps intimidating. There were a number of rules that made me a little nervous, such as to avoid any confrontation with the people being fed, to try not to make a mess and to keep behind the counter.

But I have found the experience to be highly rewarding. We were usually working in a team with employees from large Australian corporations, who were donating their time. They were always very helpful.

The chefs are cheerful and hard working. They know there will be a lot of people to serve. So that no-one will fall over, or tip something, they will always yell the word ‘clear’ so that people knew they could move behind them.

With the people who we are serving – and it is not just homeless people, anyone can be served— there is no in between. They tend to be either very quiet, or very flamboyant.

It is probably that many of the people are not very happy about being in the position they are in, of needing help. My impression is that they either show their true negative emotion or they put up a bit of a wall to conceal their feelings by being positive.

It shows how tough it is to live in such circumstances. To survive psychologically, they need an exceptional degree of resilience. They also need to find people who will not only help them, but who will also be their friend in a crisis.


"Everyone is the same. There may be people in a worse situation, but there will also be people who will show love and compassion to those who need it."


Whoever is helping them should