The Humble Mission’s determination for no-one to be forgotten

Kaylah Joelle Baker

Offering a community service for disadvantaged people without the attached stigma has always been the driving force behind The Humble Mission.

It was the reason behind the start of the relaxed and welcoming Saturday market set-up at Batman Park, where many of the mission’s “friends” in the homeless community continue to be supported to this day.

As one of the founding volunteers, Shaymaa Elkadi has seen the difference it makes when a community stands up and supports those in need who at times feel forgotten, and it left her wondering what more could be done.

It was then when some state government funding came through that they were able to start actioning some plans.

“We were lucky enough to be funded at the end of last year as part of the COVID priority response to multicultural communities to provide emergency food relief for people who have been impacted by COVID,” Ms Elkadi said.

As a trusted organisation within the community, The Humble Mission spoke to communities in need and saw the potential for a pop-up market for refugee and asylum seeker families predominately from Iraqi, Syrian, Afghan, Sudanese and Ukrainian backgrounds.

The Humble Mission then partnered with Foundation House; a specialised service focused on supporting refugees to rebuild their lives.

The result was a successful outcome with more than 80 families being supported on Sunday May 8 and 15, in the Foundation House Brunswick gardens and car park.

“It was a real privilege to support the work of The Humble Mission and their incredible group of volunteer supporters. There’s no doubt The Humble Mission made a fantastic contribution to supporting the 81 families who visited the two events,” Foundation House CEO Paris Aristotle said.

In addition to helping people get what they need, Shaymaa said the markets were “easy-going, casual and non-intimidating.”

“It was more of a community event and people would come hang out, have some lunch and get what they needed but in a respectful way that didn’t stigmatise them or cause any kind of shame.”

Outside of the funding received from the government to provide fresh produce, donated toiletries, clothes, kids toys, organic chocolate, face painting and a sausage sizzle also made up the free market.

But it was through one sincere comment from a Muslim gentleman who said he was grateful the sausages were not only “halal but tasty”, that Shaymaa was reminded how sometimes the simplest of things made the biggest difference.

“They are just grateful to be able to come together and know they are not forgotten,” she said.

Following the positive outreach of the market, The Humble Mission alongside Foundation House is hoping to continue the market on the first Sunday of July, August and September if they can find an indoor location.

Similar to the Saturday Relief by the River service, this latest market can only be successful if the community comes together to donate and support those in need.

While still accepting donations through the East Melbourne General Store, Shaymaa is hopeful that more restaurants or catering companies in and around the city will get in contact with The Humble Mission if they are left with an excess amount of food.

“The demand has gone through the roof and families are paying whatever money they do have into whatever rent they have and food is the afterthought,” Shaymaa said.

“We are really looking for restaurants who have leftover meals to provide on a weekly or monthly basis to donate food. We know a lot of food gets thrown out and we are really looking for restaurants in or around the city to help us out.”

As well as restaurants and catering companies to help The Humble Mission continue to make a difference, the organisation is also asking for one off donations and people interested in volunteering.

Head online via web or Facebook @thehumblemission to help with donations or to volunteer. •

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