Many young international students were hit hard by the pandemic last year. They arrived in Victoria anticipating a productive new school year but within weeks had become jobless, scared and lonely without the support of their family and friends.
Sadly, some students were going without food and other living essentials as they struggled to get by.
Our dedicated Young Vincentians jumped into action and launched the Vinnies Victoria International Student Aid initiative. They were well placed to understand the unique needs of students who were disproportionately affected by the impacts of COVID.
Responding with care and compassion, the Vinnies Youth Team and devoted Young Vinnies volunteers assisted struggling students with food, toiletries, and clothing and accommodation costs. They provided more than $92,000 worth of support to almost 800 students from 57 counties. The average age of the students assisted was 24.
Young Vinnies volunteer Dee, aged 23, told us why she wanted to help:
“It is one thing to hear about how hard it is for international students on the news, but it’s another thing to hear it from the students themselves. Knowing that I am helping someone who doesn’t have what I have because they are away from home is the most rewarding part.”
Importantly, the program has established relationships with the educational institutions that will provide longer-term connections for the future. Anna Jenkins, Coordinator, International Student Services at La Trobe University says:
“The support from Vinnies is invaluable and a life-line for some of our students. It helps them to buy food, clothing and other essential items during stressful times.”
But it’s the feedback that we received from one student we assisted that demonstrates the difference we can make in a young person’s life:
“I would like to thank Vinnies for giving these valuable vouchers. They were a great blessing for me in this hard time. I would like you to know that I am keeping up good with my studies as I am relieved from the grocery needs. I will offer my prayers for your Society to deliver more to those who are in need. God Bless you.”