Volunteer of the Month- Aug 2016: Nishani


1. What is your background (profession/ workplace/ training)?
I'm currently a final year medical student & have completed a Bachelor of Medical Sciences (Hons) in refugee health/health services research.

2. What inspired you to become a Water Well volunteer?
Aside from hearing stories from friends who had had a ball volunteering, I love the mission of The Water Well Project. Improving health literacy is empowering - it allays fears and gives people confidence and knowledge to engage in self-care, make informed choices, and access help and services. Health and illness can be challenging concepts for those of us who are privileged, let alone people who have experienced trauma/persecution and now find themselves confronting a new culture, language, healthcare system, loss of family/community, financial and legal pressures etc.

3. Please share one of your favourite Water Well sessions or moments.
At a Dental Hygiene session, a few mums marveled that they had always thought to brush your teeth as soon as you wake up, before breakfast. I had a 'me too!!' moment - this is what my parents taught me - and we laughed about the inconvenience of having to unlearn old habits!

4. What tips do you have for new volunteers?
I'm still learning and there's always things I could improve on for next time! Tips which have worked well for me include:

1. Props are everything - visuals are a fantastic learning aid. I remember a Child Nutrition session where I was trying to describe rice cakes (white round things made of rice, anyone??) as an example of a healthy snack. Much easier to raid your fridge and talk about food items
2. Speak less - it's tempting to explain a lot when you're nervous but asking questions enables active discussion. One strategy I like is to ask a question, go round in a circle and allow participants to answer, and then I'll add anything not covered at the end. This creates an environment where we're all learning from each other, and undermines the power imbalance.
3. Come prepared...but be prepared to go with the flow.  You'll feel more confident and participants will have a better experience if you're familiar with the topic and have a few activities/games up your sleeve.
4. Learn names
5. Laughter is the ultimate icebreaker!!