Australian Volunteers International (AVI) recruits skilled professionals from Australia to work with partner organisations in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. QASA made contact with AVI with a request for a volunteer to be hosted by QASA for a year. AVI approved this request and Lowri Williams joined the QASA team.
Lowri is based at QuadPara Association of the Western Cape (QAWC), where she will be imparting her knowledge and sharing her skills. She recently made a trip to Durban, where QASA was able to ask her a few questions:
Where are you from? What is your background?
I am from Sydney, Australia. I was born in England and moved to Australia when I was seven. I graduated from university three years ago with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Psychology.
My role in Sydney changed dramatically during the time I was there. I worked for a disability organisation as a disability carer, working part-time while I was at university. I then moved to the office where I was doing some case management and coordinating a school-holiday programme for children with physical and intellectual disabilities – this was something I really loved doing!
We used to take the children out to places like the zoo, the aquarium, local parks and other fun events. It was great to get the kids out into the community, and raise awareness around disability. I also coordinated a programme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers to assist them with skills development and relaxation techniques. This was a rewarding project to be involved with.
Your thoughts on South Africa so far?
I have really enjoyed my time in South Africa so far. I first landed in Johannesburg and visited Soweto as part of my orientation. I also tried pap for the first time – which I am now obsessed with! I then flew to Cape Town and started work with my wonderful team in the Western Cape – Anthony, Esme, Anda, Babalo, Edward and Charmaine. I’ve been with the team for three weeks now.
Why volunteer at QASA?
I have been working for more than six years in the disability sector, so I feel that I have skills that are transferable to QASA. I have already seen that there are many issues facing individuals in Australia and South Africa that are similar. Transport, employment and gaining access to equipment are all struggles I have supported families in Australia with in the past, and I look forward to bringing my experience here to assist QASA members.
I am so grateful to the QASA team for hosting me for this year. I am sure I will learn a lot! I am still relatively young in my career; however, I hope I will be able to contribute to the wonderful things QASA are working towards. I also think that because I’ve worked in Australia, I can see things in a different light.
While there are many similarities between Australia and South Africa, there are lots of differences too. It’s often really helpful to have an outsider come in, and assess some of the processes currently being conducted. I’d love to bring fresh opinions and new ways of doing things, particularly around processes and applying for funding.
The QASA team looks forward to working closely with Lowri and wishes her well during her stay.