Homesickness for many Filipinos studying in Australia is probably at its worst during the Christmas break. After all, not only are they far away from their families back in the Philippines, COVID-19 has made it particularly hard to celebrate given the loss of part-time jobs for many.
Fortunately, one community organisation, Adhika Inc., stepped in by hosting a Christmas party for international students and stranded Filipinos in Sydney.
The all-day celebration was held at Blacktown Showground in Blacktown, which allowed for ample space to gather while being COVID-compliant.
Adhika president Josie Musa led the group in providing Christmas gifts that were also collected from generous community volunteers. Among those in attendance were students from Swinburne University, Newcastle Uni, University of NSW, Sydney University, UTS and TAFE colleges.
Over a luncheon of BBQ, fried chicken, spaghetti, salads and a variety of Filipino sweets last month, more than 40 students and Adhika supporters graced the occasion, where Musa also gave an update on the association's typhoon appeal.
"Adhika is very grateful to the generosity of Lodge Jose Rizal (LJR), XMS Property, Dooleys Club, Cora and Joy, Stacy, Zenrg Finance and all those who have contributed in any way to all Adhika activities for the typhoon appeal," she said.
More than $4,000 were donated by the Filipino community to those affected by the supertyphoon (Typhoon Rolly) in Bicol. The funds went to the relief efforts of the St John the Baptist Parish Social Action Program. The Barangay health and social welfare officers volunteered in the packing and distribution of relief goods to hundreds of families in Tiwi, Malinao and Tabaco, all in the Albay Province.
Besides the luncheon, students also enjoyed a day of camaraderie with students from various universities, played games and won prizes from Adhika's raffle draw.
Musa said they are now focusing their efforts on their next event, an online program to celebrate International Women's Month in March. It will also be a fundraising event with proceeds still going towards those who were affected by the supertyphoon.
"Due to the pandemic, the typhoon survivors in Bicol are still struggling to make ends meet and find sources of income so we want to continue to support them," said Musa.