Fed Uni student draws on earthquake experience to help peers

An international student at Federation University is drawing on his own experience of a natural disaster to help other students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Master of Social Work student Pranaya has been working to provide support and advice to fellow international students at Fed Uni’s Berwick Campus.

Pranaya believes his experience of a massive earthquake in Nepal five years ago has equipped him to help others experiencing difficulty during the pandemic.

“It has been a particularly difficult time for many students, especially those who began their studies this year,” said Pranaya. 

“I have been going door-to-door to offer support to students who are trying to find work after losing their jobs, or who might just need some words of advice. I feel that I’m in a good position to offer my support, having experienced disaster when a massive earthquake occurred in Nepal in 2015. During these times, I think it is important that we are there for each other.”

In addition to offering door-to-door support and advice to students on campus as a trained Residential Advisor, Pranaya is among students and staff who volunteer at the campus’s Community Pantry, which provides food, groceries and access to support services to students.

The Community Pantry was opened to all domestic and international students this month, after operating for residential students since May. It is supported by Fed Uni, Berwick charity and community groups including Foodbank Victoria, Crossway LifeCare and members of the Sikh community.

The Community Pantry is among the practical and financial support initiatives available to Fed Uni students experiencing difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community pantries also operate at Fed Uni’s campuses in Gippsland and Ballarat.

Federation University Federation Head, Berwick Campus, Kathy Racunica, said rcent months have been challenging for international and domestic students.

“It has been wonderful to see the way that the university and wider community have come together to support students in need,” she said.