Meet CandleLighters volunteer Jason Speirings
The “CandleLighters” Volunteer Program is an initiative of HOST International to provide development opportunities to staff by supporting them on volunteer assignments overseas. These opportunities are designed to enhance the capacity of overseas refugee host organisations that are closely aligned with the purpose, objectives and values of HOST International.
Jason, 31, is a few days into a 6 month volunteer secondment with a school for refugee children in Malaysia.
Hi Jason, can you tell us a bit about your volunteer role?
I’m volunteering in Malaysia as a Refugee Education Project Worker. I’ll be working with a local NGO based in Kuala Lumpur, called The Fugee School, on a project called Teach for Refugees.
Our aim is to develop a roadmap and implementation strategy for secondary education for refugees in Malaysia. This will be done in collaboration with all other key stakeholders, including UNHCR and UNICEF, other NGOs , Refugee community learning centres, and the private sector.
Why did you volunteer for CandleLighters?
I decided to volunteer with CandleLighters to gain more hands-on experience in the international development and humanitarian sector. I have recently finished a Master of Humanitarian Assistance and would like to forge a career in this area. I’m committed to social justice and would like to work in solidarity with people impacted by conflict and disaster throughout the world.
What is your professional experience?
I have worked in the community services sector since 2007, starting as a part-time disability support worker while starting a Bachelor of Social Work. I then worked as a part-time Youth Worker for Brisbane Youth Service supporting young people experiencing homelessness.
In 2011 I started working with refugees and asylum seekers for the Multicultural Development Association, working in case management and as a team leader. In 2015, I took a 6-week secondment to join Connect Settlement Services on Nauru. This experience ignited my interest and passion for the international development and humanitarian sector, and I stayed on for another 2 years transitioning to Host in 2017.
What are you expecting from the program?
I’m expecting to put my skills, experience, and knowledge into practice in an interesting and diverse working environment. I expect that I will work with passionate, skilled, and dedicated staff in local NGOs that are under-resourced. I hope that I am able to contribute positively and creatively to the work that Fugee School is doing with displaced people in Malaysia.
Have you done anything like this before?
This will be my first time working with refugees and asylum seekers outside of Australia or Nauru. It will also be my first time working on an education-specific project.
Are you nervous, excited or both?
After taking a six-month break from work to finish my Masters, I’m excited to be delving into a meaningful project. As with any new venture in life, it is always a little bit nerve-wracking, however, I expect that it won’t take long to settle into a normal life in Malaysia.