Sambath My is Hepatitis Victoria’s Volunteer of the Month of March. Sambath has been very active volunteering at Cambodian community events, distributing information, talking about hepatitis B and the need for community members to get tested and vaccinated.
Working with the Cambodian Association of Victoria and its members, Sambath has done a great job getting the message out in the Khmer language, explained Hepatitis B Community Mobilisation Coordinator, Jawid Sayed.
“Volunteers, particularly those from high-prevalence communities play a vital role because they are embedded in their communities, know who they need to talk to and can spread our messages.
“Sambath has been helping us connect to the community through different events, festivals and religious gatherings, as these are very good ways of targeting large numbers of people,” Jawid said.
“Community work is kind of part of my DNA,” Sambath said.
“I worked in community development in Cambodia for many years, now I am doing research into policy and development, childcare policy to be specific, so when I heard that Hepatitis Victoria needed a volunteer to support my community, I thought, why not?
“So far, I have been working with the Cambodian Association and Cambodian religious leaders, to encourage people in the community to talk to their GPs and to get a blood test for hepatitis B or get vaccinated,” Sambath said.
The proportion of Cambodian people in Victoria with Hepatitis B is high and Sambath said he wants to encourage them to seek help and to access the Victorian Government’s free hepatitis B testing and vaccination program.
“I have attended events, such as the Cambodian singing contest, and distributed various leaflets in Khmer, -it is especially easier for older people- to read in Khmer. I also attended the “Clean-up Australia Day” where I could meet different groups of Cambodians’ who I could give information to.”
Sambath said some people only focus on money and their own interests, so they don’t want to give time, but “…giving back is a good way as a good citizen.”
“Everybody as a citizen should not just focus on themselves and their interests, I think everyone should contribute back to society when there is an opportunity, especially giving back to our own communities
“I am so proud to be part of the project, it’s a way with connecting with the community, connecting on the ground, and I want to encourage Cambodian people to start talking and to get a blood test.
“This is a silent killer that we are not aware of and don’t think it is a big risk, but in fact it is,” said Sambath.
“We have done a lot of work in other high-prevalence groups such as the Chinese, Afghani, Vietnamese and others, but we need to work with communities from Sub-Saharan Africa, especially through volunteers from those communities in order to expand awareness,” Jawid said.
“Working with volunteers is a very sustainable and efficient approach, we train them to be peer educators within their communities and they have a real sense of ownership,” he added.
Find out how you can help your community and volunteer at Hepatitis Victoria, call 1800 703 003