This story is from Dimi Bouzalas, a volunteer with Aboriginal Community Elders Service (ACES).
For me, volunteering at ACES, an organisation that provides services to Indigenous people, is a culmination of decisions, insights and wishes built up over many years.
Volunteering with Indigenous people has opened up a world for me far beyond my imaginings. I had just returned from a holiday to see the country my parents were born in and was lamenting to an Elder my dilemma of not knowing which was my ‘real’ country. “Dim, this is your home. You were born here, you belong here.” My heart beat paused and my breath stopped on hearing these words. I had grown up the ‘migrant girl’, different, not really a part of this world. Yet, this handful of words from this special man, an Indigenous fellow, transformed my life.
For the first time I felt a sense of belonging, a feeling I had never known before, a profound feeling, which changed my entire outlook to my life in Australia.
Definitely this elder is a very special man, but it is what I find when I communicate with most Indigenous people where I volunteer – words don’t have to be many, but the message can be profound; talk is usually straight and frank, whilst at the same time it is considerate and generous.
As much as my purpose for volunteering is to give, I am humbled by what I am learning. I am still adjusting my mind through the miniscule insights I have had when a person wholly identifies as being a part of this country and has an unquestionable sense of belonging. The people at the centre have taught me how a steadier pace of life enables greater connections between people themselves, and with the land.
Volunteering at ACES is one of my week’s highlights and I feel so privileged with the smiles I receive when I get there. The wit and humour makes each day a treat and I only wish Elvis could pay a visit for a new rendition of Lawdy, Miss Clawdy.
For more information on the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES), please contact.
Fiona Seeney, Program Coordinator
Aboriginal Community Elders Services
5 Parkview Avenue
Brunswick East 3057
Telephone: 03 9383 4244
Facsimile: 03 9384 1532