Mel Ritchie

Mel Richie.jpg

Q: How long have you been volunteering at ARV?

A: 18 months since my first volunteer day

Q: Describe your experience at ARV

A: I did my ARV training in July 2018, but wasn’t able to attend my first program day until October. In November a call went out to the volunteers looking for someone to take on the Event Coordinator role in the Kids team.  I put my hand up and organised my first event in February 2019 (December is the Holiday Program and there are no program days in January).  After a couple of months with the team the Kids Team Program Coordinator left and I fell into that role, where I have been ever since.  In January this year Amanda Young joined me as co-Program Coordinator which has lifted a huge amount of pressure from my shoulders.

Q: What made you choose ARV?

A: I’d read the book “Songs of a War Boy” by Deng Adut – the story of his life and his eventual migration to Australia as a refugee.  It was an eye-opener for me - having been born and bred in Australia, I realised how much I had taken for granted.  It made me want to do something to help make the lives of refugees a little bit easier as they settle in their new world.

Q: Describe your favourite activity with ARV so far

A: I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite! We’ve done a lot of amazing things with the Kids, and try to do something really different every month.  The first event I ever organised was the Nutty Scientist, who introduced the kids to some spectacular and messy science experiments including elephants’ toothpaste! We’ve taken them horse riding, taught them magic tricks, had a scavenger hunt at Parramatta Park, where they followed clues to learn about the areas flora and fauna, aboriginal history and early settler history.  We’ve been to Oz Harvest and cooked meals for the homeless, visited a city farm, and done lots of swimming and water slide activities, along with discovering some of the best adventure playgrounds in Sydney! I love seeing the kids having fun, challenging themselves and achieving results beyond their expectations.  

Q: What is something you like to do separate from ARV?   

A: I have two favourite hobbies outside of ARV.  The first is my dog.  I love spending time with her, walking her and teaching her new tricks, and cuddling with her at night.  My other favourite hobby is multi-day hiking.  I love getting out on a track with everything I need for the next few days on my back.  I had plans to be hiking in Queensland and the NT in June and July but unfortunately these have been cancelled due to the current situation.  I’ve picked up a third hobby while spending so much time at home… candle making!  It’s only early days but so far I’ve been successful! 

Q: Would you recommend ARV to other volunteers?

A: I would definitely recommend ARV to other volunteers.  It is so rewarding to make connections with the kids and other volunteers and see the kids learn and grow.

Q: What’s a fun fact that no one at ARV knows about you? 

A: I have an extra bone in each foot.

Australian Refugee Volunteers