Canada World Youth volunteers have spent the past three months learning the ins and outs of Nanaimo and its non-profit sector.
Rifan Bachtiar, from Central Java, Indonesia, and Charlotte Garneau, from Montreal, were amongst 18 people from Indonesia and Canada who came to the Harbour City in mid-October as part of the Canada World Youth’s Youth Leaders in Action program.
The group was matched with host families in the Nanaimo area and aided a number of non-profit organizations, with Garneau and Bachtiar helping out at Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank.
Their duties included sorting and collecting food and according to both, it was a learning experience.
“I’ve learned a lot here, like how they run social work and social assistance … they have a lot of social assistance here in Canada,” Bachtiar said.
“Every day we get fresh food from different grocery stores because people think that food banks only get non-perishable stuff but we get bread and a bunch of perishable stuff so we need to sort this every day, sometimes two times a day, because we get tons of donations.
“We get warehouse skills really because we sort everything by category and learn how to weigh everything and label everything,” said Garneau.
Being from a different country and continent, Bachtiar, a Muslim, had to not only become acclimatized to a new language, but different food and admits to experiencing culture shock.
“I had to manage my prayer time because in Indonesia, I have to pray five times and I can find a lot of mosques but here, I cannot find a mosque,” Bachtiar said.
The volunteers will leave Nanaimo on Jan. 6 and will head to the Jakarta capital region in Indonesia. Garneau is excited for what’s ahead.
“This is what is the most exciting,” said Garneau. “We don’t know anything about it. We hear about it … I can’t wait to actually hear so many people talking in Indonesia and have to catch up on it, see the climate, be warm a little bit, finally. Being out of my comfort zone is what I’m most excited about.”
A farewell event will be held on Friday (Jan. 2), 6:30 p.m., at St. Paul’s Church hall.
For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/nanaimo.kelapa.