A Griffith Business School student is among the winners of the Queensland Multicultural Awards 2016.
Naseema Mustapha, who is studying a degree in International Tourism and Hotel Management, was successful in the Outstanding Volunteer category when the award winners were announced at a presentation ceremony in Logan on Saturday.
“I feel very honoured and humbled,” she said. “I am happy to accept this award on behalf of all volunteers and grateful that this government acknowledges the input of volunteers.”
- FIND OUT MORE: Queensland Multicultural Awards 2016 Winners
Naseema has put her passion for volunteering down to her father, an avid community worker all his life, saying she absorbed these values growing up in her native South Africa and later in Australia after her family moved across the world to leave Apartheid behind in 1977.
Her first involvement with Griffith University was in a volunteer role in 1999 with the Griffith University Fund, which would lead to a paid role on the fund-raising committee for the Multi Faith Centre project, then in its infancy. A paid position that stemmed from an initial volunteer role is a pattern that would become very familiar to Naseema.
“Volunteer positions have allowed me to show my work ethic, my skills and my personality. They’ve also empowered me to make a difference, sometimes significant enough to bring about change and lead to offers of employment.”
Naseema took some time out following the birth of her children before dipping her toes back into the world of volunteering by starting a blanket drive for refugees and asylum seekers from her home. Griffith would also come calling again, as her interest in community development and social inclusion prompted her to enrol in a Bachelor of Human Services.
Her volunteer efforts accelerated as she embraced social media. In 2008 she set up Humanity Embraced Foundation, a Facebook page to raise awareness and raise funds for people in need in Queensland and thousands of miles away. Indigenous people in Australia and African communities were among the beneficiaries of her passion and dedication. She has also focused her attentions on orphanages in Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Ghana and Mozambique and run feeding programs for the Muslim community around Ramadan and Eid.
Funds raise from a chocolate party in her Brisbane home were directed to Breadline Africa. This contributed to the creation of a custom-built library inside a storage container which was delivered to a settlement in South Africa’s Western Cape province.
A local coat and blanket drive earned 293 donations this year which she personally passed on to the homeless and needy in Brisbane and Logan, with the help of her children.
“I get them to walk up to people and present the gift. It’s important to me to pass these values on to my children, just as my father passed them on to me. It drives me. I get far more out of it than I give. I gain spiritual upliftment from this.”
- FIND OUT MORE: History of the Queensland Multicultural Awards
Back at Griffith Naseema also works at as an equity mentor with the Uni-Key program and as a student partner with Student Services. She has been involved this year in re-energising the Griffith University Refugee Students Association which highlights the achievements of refugees within Griffith’s student body. “There are so many amazing people in our community right here, and we are trying to get away from the negativity that is often associated with refugees and asylum seekers.”
She is aiming to complete her degree in 2017 and put her tourism studies to use in Africa later on.
“I’d like to do an honours year studying African indigenous tourism. My vision is to develop tours with a value-added experience around African culture. I would take people to an African village which would involve a homestay, the chance to buy genuine, local arts and crafts and which would also incorporate an opportunity for tourists to put back into the community through sponsorship.”
On Saturday Multicultural Affairs Minister Grace Grace announced the eight winners and congratulated all 27 finalists during a gala luncheon also attended by Health Minister and Member for Woodridge Cameron Dick.
“These awards recognise some of the outstanding organisations and individuals who are such a vital part of Queensland’s multicultural success story,” she said.