It’s not an easy task to raise $45,000 in Canberra, particularly at a time when cost of living increases are biting.
But that has not deterred one of the city’s most giving individuals – ACT Citizen of the Year Mohammed Ali – from aspiring to raise the funds to buy a food trailer, in order to cook and serve hot food to the many Canberrans who go hungry each day.
And in a serendipitous turn of events, a food van from Canberra’s first sustainable community Ginninderry has now been donated to HelpingACT, led by Mohammed, to help him magnify the impact of their work.
For the last five years, the retired biochemist and former Multicultural Volunteer of the Year, has run HelpingACT, a charity that provides food security to vulnerable Canberrans including refugees and asylum seekers, homeless people, international students, and anyone else in need.
Mohammed has also forged a close working relationship with Ginninderry, which hosts annual community Iftar feasts and Christmas hamper drives with HelpingACT.
Earlier this year, HelpingACT decided to raise money to buy a food van to allow him to expand the hot and fresh food that he distributes during his monthly barbecues on Northbourne Avenue. Mohammed’s prayers were almost instantly answered by Ginninderry in the form of a coffee van in search of a new home.
“After being a much-loved coffee trailer in our first Display Village, it was sitting in a paddock waiting for its next life. We have worked with Mohammed for a number of years, and when we saw him begin his fundraising drive for a food trailer and what it was going to be used for, we thought it would be a great idea to donate our food trailer to HelpingACT,” said Ginninderry’s Head of Community, Marketing and Communications, Marcus Mills-Smith.
That gift included a shiny new coat of paint in HelpingACT’s trademark yellow.
In late September, the keys to the van were handed to Mohammed in a special ceremony at Ginninderry.
“This is actually a dream come true for us. We have not even reached $2000 on the fundraising so when I saw the van that Ginninderry was giving us, I actually could not sleep that night,” Mohammed said.
“It makes my job and the job of all my 50 volunteers so much easier now and it will allow us to take our barbecues to the southside and also spread to Belconnen. It looks very professional and has hotplates and cooking facilities on board. It is more than we could have hoped for.”
Mohammed also noted that the van could be used to cook fundraising sausage sizzles in order to raise money to buy more non-perishable food.
“Ginninderry has really opened a door for us and given us so many options. Whenever things have been tough and we have fallen short, we have had the support of Ginninderry and the ACT Government and we are incredibly grateful.”
Marcus said it was heartening for Ginninderry staff and residents to see the van go to such good use.
“We know the amazing work that Mohammed does, and it really aligns with our values and ethos at Ginninderry, which is that we are more than bricks and mortar here—we are trying to leave a lasting legacy on the local region.“
Images courtesy of Region Media.