By Danielle Kutchel
After arriving in Australia as a migrant from Afghanistan, Zulfi Hydari was keen to give back to the country that had given him so many opportunities to achieve his dreams.
It was this drive to support his new home that saw Mr Hydari don the orange overalls of the SES almost three years ago – and he’s never looked back.
Since joining the Greater Dandenong SES, Mr Hydari says he has had the opportunity to learn a diverse range of skills.
“Before I joined I had no idea how to use a chainsaw, and now I’ve got my licence through the SES,” he explained.
“I’ve developed mapping and navigational skills too, and working on heights.”
He’s also been able to participate in the vital work that the SES does.
“I’ve done a lot of missing persons searches, lots of animal rescues and helped police with searches at crime scenes,” Mr Hydari recalled.
“Helping with the fires was exciting – I was helping this year and last year in Gippsland.”
Mr Hydari balances his volunteering with a full time job. After 5pm, he said, he is available to pursue his volunteering passion when needed.
“It’s my home now, so I want to give to the community,” he explained.
He added that he would recommend joining the SES to anyone who wants to help.
“I want to encourage people to get into it, because it’s a really good experience. You get to meet people from different backgrounds and work with different departments like the police.
“I’ve made a lot of friends through the SES, and I’m part of the SES family now. I’ll do this for a long time,” he said.
Mr Hydari’s comments come as Australia marks National Volunteer Week.
Wednesday 20 May was Wear Orange Wednesday, a day of thanks for Victorian SES volunteers like Mr Hydari.
Landmarks around Greater Dandenong, including the Drum Theatre and lights along Lonsdale Street, glowed orange in support of the SES.
Anyone interested in joining the SES should visit www.ses.vic.gov.au/volunteer