Melbourne school feeding stranded international students calls on city kitchens to open up
Melbourne City Institute of Education (MCIE) has 550 international students on their books, not that they’re studying anymore under the state’s strict social distancing rules. At the moment these students have a lot of spare time but no money, most of them working in retail or hospitality while studying in Melbourne.
In fact the situation has become so bad that most of them are lining up for two free meals a day, meals provided care of MCIE. Unable to return home due to travel restrictions and with COVID-19 being a global pandemic, families of the students are in financial peril themselves and unable to assist the students.
Yenica Viasuc, (24) from Colombia has been living in Melbourne for a year, working in hospitality and has now been stood down from two jobs due to the COVID-19 virus.
‘I was earning enough money to financially support myself while on my student visa plus I was paying taxes. Now I can’t pay my rent and I am relying on free meals that have been provided for me from my school,’ said Ms Viasuc.
‘Unfortunately, my family can’t financially support me now as they are in the same situation in Colombia. I am scared and very anxious about what the future holds for me as I don’t have the finance to pay for a flight to return to Colombia.’
MCIE teaches hospitality as part of its program and have decided to throw open their kitchen to help cook for and feed the students.
MCIE has teamed up with the Charon Foundation to help feed the students and are now finding other international students approaching them to be fed.
‘Over 500,000 international students in Australia each year to study. Of course they provide an enormous financial benefit to the country but we’re concerned about these people not as statistics but at the human level,’ says Gary Coonar, Managing Director of MCIE.
‘These young people are far from their families and they need our help, not just as a host country but as good people. We are calling on those with commercial kitchens in Melbourne to open them up to help feed these kids.’
MCIE has applied for a 75k grant through Study Melbourne which they will use to expand their current service and food provision as well.
‘We’re also calling on anyone else who do so to help provide food for us to cook. And any volunteers to help with that cooking,’ said Mr Coonar.