Migrant Shashi loves to chip in and help through Volunteering May 2019

Shashi and Manoj Kariyawasam both volunteering as 'facepainters' at Pasifika Fusion Festival 2019

"At the end of the day, I just love the feeling of having done something good and accomplishing something"

When Shashi Kariyawasam came to New Zealand from Sri Lanka in 2018, she'd never done any volunteering.

Within the first few months since she had arrived, the 29-year-old had volunteered at Special Olympics and been involved with Multicultural Whangarei for a re-settlement programme at the Whangarei Migrant Centre.

“I worked as a coordinator at the Special Olympics, so I would go to trainings and practices and help cheer up the athletes and help them”. she said. “I also worked at the Migrant Centre on a new project, helping to empower new migrants gain employment”.

Having left Sri Lanka to get a better education, Shashi fell into volunteering through her course at NorthTec. “On the first day at NorthTec they dragged us to the Volunteering Northland Centre and told us we could volunteer as a firefighter, we could cook, garden”.

She said she loves volunteering for the sense of satisfaction she gets out of helping people. “At the end of the day, I just love the feeling of having done something good and accomplishing something”. Whenever they (the migrants) see me now they’re excited to see me and I'm like 'yay, somebody knows me',” she said. But volunteering has served another purpose for Shashi – making friends and meeting people. “Earlier I didn't know anyone here, and now they all know me so that's really good”.

Continuing her volunteering efforts throughout the year, Shashi has since been helping Volunteering Northland at community events and both her and her husband Manoj have enjoyed volunteer face-painting at the Pasifika Fusion Festival in Whangarei. Other volunteer roles included being an Area Coordinator for Pink Ribbon Street Appeal and supporting Cancer Society – Relay for Life. 

During National Volunteer week in 2018, the Northern Advocate published a small piece on Shashi's volunteering experience. Whangarei South Rotary's Club members saw the article and immediately reached out to Shashi. Shashi is now continuing the good work of Rotary International as one of South Rotary Whangarei's newest members. Rotary's aim is to "make a difference locally and globally" and club members are very active in supporting community initiatives. Shashi's efforts in the Whangarei community are really making a difference.

Story By: Northern Advocate/Volunteering Northland