Sisters Jemima (8) and Clemmie (6) volunteered with Mum, Isabel, and Dad, Rollo, making lunches for clients at the Asylum Seekers Centre. Jenny Tracey who manages the food bank at the ASC had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jemima, and the interview was published in Jemima’s school newsletter.

“I volunteered with the charity, Kids Giving Back, in the last school holidays and went to the Asylum Seeker Centre in Newtown. Three families with children prepared food at home and brought it to the centre, where we served refugees their lunch. They were from 80 different countries from around the world, for example Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Georgia.

The refugees waited while we got the food ready and made a long queue that went across the entire room. We didn’t really talk much to them, but they were all very friendly and appreciated our cooking. We provided curry, salads, fruit, poppadums and lots of rice. The food that wasn’t finished was taken by families in containers for their dinner.

After we served the lunch, I interviewed a lady called Jenny in the food bank. A food bank is where they keep all of the charity food for handing out to asylum seekers. Here is my interview”:

Q: Why are these people here and where do they come from?
A: They come from eighty different countries. It is not safe for them in their home countries. This might be because of their politics, or their race, or their religion, or the social group they are a member of. Some of them have helped others in their own countries and have tried to protect human rights. They are asking for Australia to protect them.

Q: What do you do here as a job?
A: I run NESS, which stands for Nutrition, Education and Social Support. We run a food bank and organise free lunches for the families, like the one you’ve been involved in. We also provide English classes and different activities. For example, music, sewing, swimming and trips to museums.

Q: What else do you do at the centre?
A: One of the others things we provide is a Family Support Team, which helps kids go to school, and we also try to find people employment.

Q: Are any of the people who work here refugees?
A: Yes, lots – one of my team, and also the Family Support Co-ordinator and one of the employment team.

Q: What do the people who come here do for work?
A: The Centre tries to help people get jobs, but it is hard when you don’t speak any English.

Q: Why do you help people at the Centre?
A: Everyone has the right to be safe. It takes a lot of time to find your feet in a new country, especially when you have nothing: we want to help people settle in Australia.

I still have many memories about being at the Centre, including when a man came up to me and nearly shook my hand off! I think he did that to say ‘thank you’.

By Jemima, Year 2