SSI clients who live in Sydney’s west while seeking asylum, headed east to Mosman on October 24, to start regenerating a neglected harbourside national park.
It was the first day of a 10-week volunteering project arranged by SSI and NSW’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
“What we’d like to achieve here is twofold,” said Mel Tyas, an NPWS ranger. “To make this area usable again and give these people an opportunity to do something interesting in a stunning location.”
The group of 15 clients volunteering in the project, 14 men and one woman, are originally from Iran, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They spent the day clearing overgrown paths, weeding, clearing rubbish and removing “do not enter” signs in the park.
Some of the men in the group have carpentry skills and will be building picnic tables and seats. The woman volunteer is an artist who will help direct the painting of a mural to cover graffiti on a WWII heritage site within the park.
Another volunteer, Ibrahim, 22, left Pakistan two years ago and cannot work because he is on a bridging visa. He said he was glad to be doing something productive. “Normally I just go to the library and do English classes to pass time, so this is very good; better than sitting alone at home,” he said.