Volunteer E. Chirenda

Pictured: Edward Chirenda, Inside Out Live-in Mentor

When a friend told Edy about the Inside Out Live-In Mentor program it really appealed to him as a way he could live out his faith. “It’s important to help people within the community, as part of “loving your neighbour” doing what you can to improve someone’s life.”

Edy said he would definitely recommend the program to others, “It’s such an important opportunity to impact and influence young people’s lives. You can get discouraged because you don’t see instant results, but you’re a part of planting a seed.”

Edy travelled to Australia to study and was blessed with a job as a financial planner a day after he graduated. He is 35 and lives in Australia without family. His parents are currently living in Zimbabwe and he has three sisters spread across the world. His family instilled in him as a child the value of generosity. “When I’d finished the meal on my plate, my sisters would often offer me their own. As I grew up it became infectious, I started to understand how important it is to show sacrificial love for others.”

When he started volunteering as a Live-In Mentor, Edy understood the importance of being a good example for young people by sacrificing his time, helping take them shopping, share resources or furniture – to create an environment of love.

For many of the young people living in our accommodation showing sacrificial love is opposite to what they had been taught. “The mantra of the modern world can be cut throat, just think about and take care of yourself only,” said Edy and he hoped to change and show them a way of living differently and generously.

Edy currently lives with two other live-in mentors, who are also African Australians. They recently lived with two young men with backgrounds from Sudan and Ethiopia. Living together has given them a unique opportunity to connect with each other. Edy really began to form a strong bond of connection with one of the young men, Jacob* as they could relate to each others life experiences.

“Both being from Africa it was easier to relate, it’s important to find a way that you can connect, and we could connect through the pain of experiencing prejudice and disadvantage. I could empathise with him and say “you’re not alone, you are my younger brother and you should come talk to me if you ever need anything.””

After that Jacob’s attitude changed from being closed off and uncomfortable, to more open, trusting, smiling and becoming a happier person. Through the development of a relationship of trust, they knew that they could come and have honest chats, where Edy could find avenues to encourage him and influence him in a positive way.

Edy knew that he could lead by example showing them that even the act of waking up, as an African man, and going to work with a full time job, could change their perspective if all they have ever seen are people with no job, no money or hope. This may give them a way of seeing another life or a future direction that they too could have.

Edy’s housing worker, Andrew Parker, has been a positive role model for him too. “He’s been a great mentor to me, and genuinely cares for the welfare of the young people and myself. He gives me effective ways to support a young person, enabling me to become a better leader and individual. My life has definitely changed because of his impact.”

To find out more about becoming a Live-In Mentor for our Inside Out program, click here.

*Name has been changed for privacy.

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