Jeremy Doupe is one of our feature volunteers for National Volunteer Week 2012. He tells us how he worked with a little boy named Danford and improved his literacy in leaps and bounds.


My community service for the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was a program called “Toast and tutoring”. It involved leaving school at 7:30am each Wednesday morning with Mr Hay (the founding teacher of the program) and going to Mitcham Primary School to tutor young refugees.

During these sessions, we taught the kids who came from many different cultural backgrounds. The students mostly came from certain parts of Asia – Tibet and Burma, but there were also students from Sudan in Africa.  It was a fantastic experience working with these children and it was very humbling to hear about how they came to Australia and how hard their lives have been and still are. These students also strive very hard to do their best in their learning.

I worked, in particular, with one little Year 1 boy named Danford, who was from Burma.  I read books with Danford, played Mathletics and completed work sheets in order to help him with his learning.  Over the time I spent working with him, his English speaking and writing ability and his numeracy skills improved out of sight. At the beginning of the program, Danford was quite shy and introverted and did not communicate openly with me. By the end of the program he was always happy to see me. He talked more freely about his school life and I learnt a little bit about his family.

The students and teachers at Mitcham Primary were all lovely people. The teachers who looked after the refugee children were very kind to give up their time so that these kids can have a brighter future.

I am very lucky that I took up the opportunity to work with these children when I did as the experience has given me a new perspective on the lives of people less fortunate that myself. I enjoyed the program immensely and it was very special to see a person like Danford who, despite having next to nothing in the way of material goods, was happy whenever I saw him. I thank Mr Hay for creating this opportunity and I look forward to being a part of the program in 2012 and beyond.

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