Trio of volunteers keep on keeping on
They are affectionately known as “The Three Musketeers” and for the past ten years they have been volunteering to help new arrivals to Australia learn English.
Al Nakonesky, Sarvesh Somana and Ed Mooney are all in their seventies and have a combined age of 231 years.
Each week they come to class at settlement agency AMES in St Albans for two hours to share their English language knowledge, life experiences and their humour with students.
The trio are known fondly by many of the students and all of the staff at St Albans.
“We have a tradition where between classes, these three lively characters join us in the staff room for morning tea and all present do the Herald Sun and Age quizzes – usually led by Al,” said AMES Coordinator Rosemary Harmon.
“Ed has been a volunteer with us for ten years and Sarvesh for 16 while Al has been with AMES for 18 years volunteering at Ascot Vale, Brunswick, Coburg and now St Albans,” she said.
“Ed, Sarvesh and Al who are Irish, Indian and Canadian respectively have enlivened the classroom and staff room alike with their sense of humour and generosity of spirit.
“St Albans values them as volunteers and friends and we hope they will continue with us for some time to come,” Rosemary said.
Volunteer language tutor Al Nakonesky said, as a migrant himself, he could understand the challenges new arrivals to Australia face.
“I’m from Canada, and obviously I speak English, but I can relate to the challenges and problems you have when you come to settle in a new country,” he said.
“I’m happy to help people going through that experience and it’s rewarding to be able to make a small contribution to our local community,” Al said.
“Also it is really interesting to meet people from different parts of the world and some of them have amazing and inspiring stories – some have been through some tough times and I’m inspired by their resilience,” he said.
Rosemary says the students are grateful for Ed, Al and Sarvesh’s time and effort.
“They really make a difference to our students learning outcomes and they are very much appreciated around here,” she said.
“Their life experiences in having come from other parts of the world is also vaIuable for our students,” Rosemary said.
“We have nick-named them the three musketeers because they are so lively, friendly and entertaining.”