Volunteer of the Month- July 2016: Elisabeth


1. What is your background (profession/ workplace/ training)?
Doctor at Monash Health


2. What inspired you to become a Water Well volunteer?

I was drawn by the fact that Water Well Project volunteers have the chance to make a difference in the lives of those who may not have had the same opportunities in education and health literacy. I loved the idea of being able to bring relevant information to refugee and migrant groups to empower them to improve their health and wellbeing. I saw it as an opportunity to apply my skill set in a more meaningful way in our wider community, and have found the sessions to be an eye-opening reminder of what I take for granted. Each session is unique in its challenges and fun, and has served as inspiration to return for the next one.

3. Please share one of your favourite Water Well sessions or moments.

Some of my favourite sessions would have to be with the community playgroups, which offer a space for mums and kids of refugee and migrant backgrounds to meet each other. It has been great having the chance to attend a few of these playgroups to run sessions on topics such as child development, healthy eating, and dental hygiene. I have particularly enjoyed observing how the discussions can bring the women together to identify with and support each other. The mums are always keen for information on how to better care for their children, and have such enthusiasm for learning how to optimise the health of their kids. It is also good fun spending time with their babies and toddlers! One moment that was particularly memorable was a session with a Dandenong North playgroup where I was interacting with a mum and her child when the toddler took her first steps – the delight in that moment was certainly unforgettable!


4. What tips do you have for new volunteers?

My advice for new volunteers is:
1.Each session is different, so keep an open mind and be flexible. The audience often will have different levels of knowledge about the topic, so just start with the basics and tailor the rest to what the group is open to. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t run the way you initially planned.
2.Empathise with your audience and be patient
3.Have fun! Smiles are universal across all the language and cultural barriers, and if you are enjoying yourself the group will feel more comfortable and enjoy the session too.