For Tallas, volunteering is all about connecting.
Growing up in Mayfield, he would see homeless or disadvantaged people walking the streets. Through DARA, he watched SFX staff and volunteers sit beside these people and treat them with “compassion, interest and equality”.
Tallas has now made those same connections, and believes society would benefit if all those in need were treated with the same care.
“With DARA, I help prepare food, but it varies from week to week,” Tallas said. “I might be making coffee one day or I might be on the barbecues. Usually I’m down with a couple of the blokes chatting and handing out the food packages.”
Tallas has also begun helping with English lessons at DARA’s Refugee Hub in Mayfield. Refugees of all ages attend weekly lessons to improve their English skills and make connections.
“It was interesting trying to make those connections with limited English,” he said. “Lessons can be a little bit boring for the teenage blokes, so it is good to connect through our shared interest of soccer. Hopefully in the near future we’ll get to play a game together.”
Tallas has enjoyed expanding his friendships, especially with those he wouldn’t normally have had an opportunity to get to know. With the refugees, he has been trying to get an understanding of what they have faced before coming to Australia, and has realised despite their challenges, “that all these blokes are exactly the same as me”.
Tallas was encouraged to volunteer by DARA’s project liaison officer, John Sandy, who spoke at his school. He sees Mr Sandy as a role model who has influenced more people than he realises.
“I want to give a compliment to John,” Tallas said. “His moral integrity is pretty amazing and he has had a big influence on us as young people to live by our values and really have a servant heart.”
Tallas has enjoyed many benefits from volunteering and wants to encourage other young people to give it a go.
“It’s really easy as a young person to stick with your own habits and own lifestyle and we can get really comfortable, a little bit too comfortable,” he said “The most rewarding thing about it is the experience of engaging with new people, people you wouldn’t normally get to cross paths with.
“This will sound selfish, but it also has a personal reward as well. Being able to get out and serve and have a sense of compassion, it really does do something for you as an individual. It’s that twofold benefit.”
The world is a brighter place with people like Tallas, so here’s hoping other young people take up that challenge. To find out more about volunteering with DARA, go to www.dara.org.au