DONATION DRIVE: Zahra Haryadi is organising the Cardiff Hawks’ month-long donation drive to help the homeless. Picture: Marina NeilZahra Haryadi never thought she could end up homeless.
But that is exactly what happened in her final year of school.
Ms Haryadi was 17 and Newcastle High School captain when“a family breakdown” forced her out of home.
“It was during a really crucial moment in my life,” she said.
“I was doing my HSC…It was very frustrating and very stressful and the way I actually got through that and managed to get a good enough ATAR to get to uni was through thegenerosity and kindness of people.
“I was couch-surfing, looking for places to stay, with anyone really, for a couple of months.”
Now, five years on, theHamilton South marketing professional wants to help others in a similar or worse position.
She has been the driving force behind the Cardiff Hawks AFL club’s month-long charity campaign to gather donations forHunter Homeless Connect Day onAugust9 atBroadmeadow PCYC.It provides a range of vital services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“You don’t need to do something extravagant or massive to make a difference,” Ms Haryadi said.
“A lot of people don’t realise how the simple act of donating an item of clothing, or basic hygiene products canhelp.
In NSWin excess of 28,000 people are homeless, more than any other state in Australia.
In theHunterup to 400 people,some as young as 12, are homeless or sleeping rough each night.
“I want people to know that the homeless and the people that are sleeping rough are not just a statistic; they’re not just something that you see on the news,” Ms Haryadi said.
“I didn’t have a bad upbringing or anything like that, it was just simply a family breakdown.”
While she was studying a Bachelor of Communication at the University of Newcastle she did work placement with Compass Housing, a community housing organisation.
It was through them she learned about Hunter Homeless Connect Day.
Ms Haryadi’spartner Nick Chapman plays for the Hawks andthe club were keen to help out when they heard her idea.
With barely a week into their month of collecting donations, the club has already collected over 15 bags.
Blankets are a top priority but there are plenty of other things that can help too, such as clothes suitable forwork and job interviews.
Donations for Hunter Homeless Connect Day can be made to Hawks training on Thursdays this month at Hillsborough Oval between 6pm and 8pm.