Volunteers' Week - Thank You Sharma De Abrew

Sharma De Abrew decided against paid employment at McAuley House because she wanted to be a volunteer. Two years ago the offer of paid work didn’t fit in with the time she had available so she offered to teach women at McAuley House to sew for no pay. It’s a fortnightly Sunday commitment she loves and so do the women. Her classes vary in size, but offer women of all skills the chance to learn more and create something of their own.

Sharma is passionate about sewing and knitting and takes one-on-one classes some evenings and on the weekends. By day she is an executive assistant to an ANZ Bank executive so the work at McAuley House offers a welcomed change of pace.

For Sharma, the volunteer work has given her an insight into the difficult lives many women live and the struggles they must rise above. Some of the Sunday sewers are residents at McAuley House and others are part of the outreach program, taking the opportunities the recreation program offers.

“The ladies have a great time, chatting and laughing and exchanging ideas. I think for some of them it is an escape from the difficulties of their lives,” Sharma said.

McAuley House has a well-equipped sewing area thanks to donations of materials and to financial contributions which make it possible for recreation worker Leonie Lawrence to provide what the women need.

“I get a lot out of teaching the class, doing something I love and using skills I have to make a difference to someone’s life. And I know the ladies really appreciate me being there with them. It is great to see their sense of achievement when they have finished their cushion of whatever they are making.”

Some of the women already know how to sew and want to make a garment and others want to start from scratch and Sharma can handle any and all skill levels.

“I have learnt a lot in the past two years.I now know that homelessness doesn’t just affect women from one social or economic group; circumstances can change someone’s life no matter who they are.”