Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

UNE student Danti Asianti came to Armidale nearly eight years ago leaving her home country of Indonesia behind. After struggling to find sufficient food during her first few days in the country, she vowed to do whatever it took to ensure nobody ever experienced what she had again. 

Danti said her beginnings in Australia were less than ideal, but this has only inspired her to give back to others in any way she could. 

“When I was here, my first week in Australia, I could not buy decent food, and I was so scared to ask for help. I didn’t want to present a negative image to the Government, so I decided to suffer in silence,” she said. 

“I said to myself, if I ever got into a position where I could help people that were in the same position as I was, I would; I swore I would never let anyone stave like that again.” 

Free food and winter provisions to those in need

Years later, Danti says she kept that vow. As a member of the UNE Mosque Management Association (UMMA), she has led the giveaway project in collaboration with students and local community members, providing free food and winter provisions to those in need since 2018.

“It’s open for people to take food they need or any donation they don’t need anymore. Through our streamlined system, we have made assistance easily accessible to those who need it,” Danti said. 

“Some people are so scared of asking for help, especially students, so I wanted to help and give free food, and not ask questions or ask them why they might need food.” 

Only two years later, the number of food donations had swelled to the point where more storage space was needed. Danti says she reached out to the previous UNE Vice Chancellor to request an empty room for storing donated provisions. 

“In response to my request, she graciously allowed us to repurpose the old, cold garage, which was previously used as a praying space, into a storeroom for the donated items,” she said. 

Writing group leads to lasting friendships 

Since 2017 Danti has also been dedicated to organising and leading an online writing group for research students to help improve their writing. 

“I started the writing group because writing has always been a challenge for me, it’s not a habit in Indonesia. There was no writing group for research students, so I thought it might be a good idea to get an expert in writing to come in and teach us at the beginning,” she said. 

“It’s very informal; there is no director. It’s a very friendly environment, and it provides the support students need; each of us has been there, and we would like to see each of us graduate from UNE. Almost all members have since graduated, with one more this year.” 

Danti says that even after most people in the group graduated and left Armidale, they had forged a strong friendship that has seen them all stay in touch. 

“It really helped each of us to improve and became a crucial support system where members can share and find solutions to study-related issues, mental health concerns, and writing progress challenges,” she said. 

Along with her volunteering efforts, Danti says she has since completed her PHD in applied linguistics and plans to complete another course to become a teacher in Australia, a profession she also held while living in Indonesia.

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