Bayanihan spirit shines in AFAS Inc. as it supports international students in Sydney during pandemic
With the uncertainty of recent times, many communities have been coming together to support one another in many ways.
The Association of Filipino-Australians in Sydney (AFAS Inc.) is just one group who has played a special role in lending a helping hand to struggling members of the international student community.
AFAS Inc. Director, Sport and Multicultural, Mark Anthony D. Tesoro, said the COVID-19 lockdowns have had a huge impact on the international student population in Australia, including loss of jobs, which led to them facing difficulties in paying for rent and other bills.
“Almost 5,000 Filipino international students in Sydney alone are affected by this pandemic,” he explained.
In response, family organisation AFAS Inc. implemented a number of initiatives to help not just Filipino international students, but all international students in Sydney who require assistance.
These initiatives included:
- Creation of the #AFASHelpingTowardsInternationalStudent Campaign to help students get bags of food,
- Allocation of a team to bring together those willing to help during this time of crisis,
- Preparation of ready-to-eat food, and
- Responding to those reaching out on Facebook Messenger for emotional support.
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Mark Tesoro said the organisation has seen huge positive impacts as a result of their voluntary work, all of which has been funded by members and donations from friends and family.
“We interviewed some of the beneficiaries of our cause and they were very happy,” he said.
“We were able to provide almost 150 food packs to international students (Rice, oil, canned goods and more) and everyone was very thankful.
“Our Filipino spirit of ‘Bayanihan’ really prevails.”
AFAS Inc. also sends a special message to the community around the world.
“[We] would like to thank and honour all our Filipino and non-Filipino healthcare workers in the world who are in the frontline to fight this pandemic, they are our heroes,” AFAS Inc. President Maridel De Claro said.
Members of the organisation hope the community stays healthy and safe, and they encourage all to regularly exercise, eat healthy, connect with family and friends if possible, and follow government advice.
AFAS Inc.’s initiatives are still ongoing, so are still taking on volunteers, and accepting cash or food donations.