Student volunteer Afra Azzahra embodies the passionate, cause-driven spirit of today’s socially conscientious volunteers.

To coincide with National Student Volunteer Week (#NSVW), we’re pleased to share a series of stories showcasing the incredible breadth and diversity of student volunteering.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Afra Azzahra, a student who displays dedication beyond their years, with extensive volunteer experience across a range of community and humanitarian programs and organisations. Read our full interview to learn more about Afra’s “happy-go-lucky life” in volunteering, including their motivations, experiences working in culturally diverse teams, and advice to organisations looking to recruit student volunteers.

If you haven’t already, make sure you take a look at our other student stories with Laila Alves and Shawn Woo.


Full interview with Afra Azzahra

Facilitated by Sojen Pradhan, AusLEAP 

Who do you volunteer with?

I volunteer with Australian Red Cross, a humanitarian aid and community services charity in Australia. Previously, I worked in Red Cross based in Wagga-Wagga, and since moved to Canberra branch for short term volunteering.

In 2023, I also volunteered with two other organisation, including:

  1. The Kindness Hub: an organisation which aims to connect and inspire people to engage kindness in the community. One of their programs is called ‘Speed Friending’.
  2. The Equal Effort: a creative studio committed to advancing education on important issues in fun and engaging ways. One of their main programs is ‘WASH’ (water, sanitation and hygiene).

How do you volunteer?

I have held various positions at the Australian Red Cross, including:

  1. Administrative volunteer: this role is quite varied, including administrative support, and helping with programs such as emergency services, humanitarian settlement program, and community services.
  2. Retail Shop volunteer: this involves assisting with donations, liaising with customers, creating eye-catching displays, and organising stock in warehouses, all while raising money for Red Cross services through sales.
  3. Tele-cross volunteer: the aim of this role is to provide a daily reassurance telephone call to vulnerable peoples (such as the elderly, people living with disability or the medically at risk) to check on their health and well-being.

In terms of the Kindness Hub, I volunteered as an event assistant for their ‘Speed Friending’ program.

I join Equal Effort as a researcher for their WASH program in an Indonesian context.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I’m keen to give back to the community. After all the favours I’ve received (like good access into higher education, great government job, and happy-go-lucky life) it’s time to return the favour. It’s about helping the community in need.

How did you get involved in volunteering?

Through the AusLEAP Program at the University of Technology Sydney, I discovered opportunities for engagement. After joining their virtual session, I felt encouraged to get involved in volunteer work, both online with initiatives like the Kindness Hub and Equal Efforts programs, and offline at the Australian Red Cross. Unfortunately, I discovered this program late; otherwise, I would have been participating in volunteer work since the beginning of my studies in Australia.

What do you get out of volunteering?

I’ve gained new skills such as interpersonal skills and life skills. I connect with new people and networks. Also, I’m keen to share my experiences with others when I return to my country.

Do you volunteer with a diverse team?

I volunteer with people across many cultures, not only Australian, but also from Asian and African backgrounds. As long as we are kind, open minded, and respectful, we all get along.

Do you have any advice for a volunteer manager or organisations trying to recruit student volunteers?

I would suggest highlighting the personal experiences and benefits to be gained from volunteering (not only the support it provides to people in need). This includes things like personal growth, social skills, and well-being.

Have you faced any challenges to volunteering or within your volunteer role?

Not really, Red Cross provided all the information before we entered the volunteers program. They have managers that tell us what we should do, supported by face-to-face and online training. Everything ran smoothly. The other two organisations I participated in also provided regular check-ins and feedback sessions which were helpful.


Learn more

About AusLEAP

AusLEAP is a program that connects international students in NSW with local, established community, charity, not-for-profit, and social enterprise organisations to undertake training and volunteering opportunities. It was launched in February 2022 with support from the Study NSW Partner project.

In 2022, AusLEAP partnered with 34 groups in NSW, enhancing volunteering for international students. They collaborated with eight universities, four colleges, three associations, two social enterprises, one student agency, business, government, and sixteen community organizations. Through this, students integrated into local communities, learned Australian work culture, and made a social impact.

To learn more about this program, visit their website.

Highlights of AusLEAP 2023 can be viewed here.

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