Volunteer of the Month – May 2023: Jana

1. What is your background (profession/ workplace/ training)?

Paediatric Surgery Registrar at Monash Children's Hospital.


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

Growing up, I was drawn to healthcare because I was inspired by those around me who volunteered in poorly resourced countries providing medical aid. Whilst volunteering at a detention centre in New Zealand during high school, I developed a passion for helping refugee and migrant communities. When I came across The Water Well Project during the pandemic I was drawn in immediately. The Water Well Project centres its work on these diverse communities which provides me an incredible opportunity to learn about various cultures whilst also helping them with their healthcare literacy.


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

Every The Water Well Project session has been different and the people have always been so welcoming and wonderful to chat with. My favourite moment was during a session with an Ethiopian group in November last year at their community centre. The founding community centre leader gave me a run-down of the centre's history and how it helps pass their culture on to younger generations whilst also helping them achieve their goals in Australia. He was telling me about the community coming together and monetarily contributing to help the youth in their community attend higher education, start businesses and more.  The session was with adult members of the community group, and at one point during the mental health session many of them had genuine questions around how they could ensure the youth members felt supported if they ever faced difficulties in their mental health. This moment was my favourite because it showed their understanding of the topic we were discussing and their care for the younger generations in their community. Leading up to this they had talked to me about the stigma around mental health in their community and the adversities they had been through which made it hard for them to understand why their children struggled with mental health in modern Australia. 


4. What tips do you have for new volunteers?

Keep an open mind and listen, these communities are full of lovely people with amazing stories and their own insights. There have been times I have had to step outside of my comfort zone in doing a session by myself, and every time I have been extremely happy that I did. So if it's not too much of a stretch, step out of your comfort zone whether it be with topics or in terms of facilitating by yourself, and you won't regret it!