Akhila Nagaraja began volunteering at Kensington Neighbourhood House in 2016 after moving here from Canberra. Even though she was working full time, Akhila committed to being a volunteer tutor with our homework club – assisting high school children with their studies every Saturday.
“I was new to Melbourne and I thought it would be a great way to get involved in my new community. Volunteering has always been a part of my life (I was an ESL tutor in Canberra) and I wanted it to continue.”
When the homework club disbanded in 2017, Akhila could easily have regained some time for herself but instead asked if she could become a volunteer English tutor with one of our adult students. As luck would have it, one of our long-term students – Obsitu Mohamed – was in need of a new tutor. She and Akhila began meeting once a week and have worked together ever since.
Over that time, Akhila has gone “above and beyond” when it comes to assisting Obsitu – helping her with housing issues and connecting her with appropriate financial advisors.
“Building a relationship with Obsitu has been very rewarding and my favourite moments have been out of the classroom when we have caught up over coffee and spoken about our families and life experiences. Even though it has been difficult (navigating the complex web of government programs), I felt very pleased when Obsitu came to me for help with other aspects of her life, such as her housing, as it meant that she felt supported in her community and could reach out for help when she needed it.”
This extra assistance has meant the world to Obsitu and helps her to feel a real sense of community connection.
The benefit is not all one way. As Akhila explains it: “volunteering is a two way street and contributes a lot to my own wellbeing, I get to meet people from diverse backgrounds and learn new things.”
In addition to the above Akhila is a member of our Student Advisory Group and has recently put up her hand to co-ordinate the “Movies That Matter” program.
Akhila has attended a number of cooking and gardening workshops at KNH over the years and also took part in our “Return To The Dollhouse” project last year.
“I’ve made really good friends through the Neighbourhood House, which is great, because it’s difficult to make friends in a big city.”
Akhila has enjoyed her involvement with KNH so much that she has now nominated to join our volunteer Board of Management! We look forward to having her input in the years to come.