By NICOLE VALICEK
MYA WAH is a member of the Karen community living in Laverton who has enjoyed volunteering in the community for the past two years.
Mya is part of the largest group of new arrivals to the municipality who have resettled from Burma (Myanmar), mainly in the Laverton area.
Mya immigrated to Australia from a refugee camp with his family in 2008 and has had to adapt to a new country.
A new project by Volunteer West into the participation of Karen community members in the West has found new ways to engage the local members and increase volunteer participation.
Like many new immigrants, lack of English skills and the isolation that can bring are some of the obstacles to volunteering.
Mya said started volunteering after a back injury that required two surgeries prevented him from looking for paid work.
He volunteers for the Williamstown Soccer Club each week, helping younger members get to training and helps fund-raising for the club and at the Wyndham Community Centre.
“I enjoy I can help the people … (I always) want to do more” Mya said.
The Volunteer West report discovered that event-based volunteering is one way to support Karen people in volunteering roles, such as Clean Up Australia Day.
Creating more opportunities to volunteer like this is a key feature of the research.
One recommendation of the report was to create more projects which benefit the community as well as provide volunteer opportunities for people.
Mya said volunteering was very important to him but he looks forward to returning to the workforce to support his family.