A desire to give back to his new community is what drove Victor Oyugi CPA to volunteer for a charity, but the experience changed his life and, he hopes, his career path.
By Katie Langmore
When Victor Oyugi CPA relocated “Down Under” from Kenya with his Australian partner, he spent his first year in Melbourne on a tourist visa. Because he was unable to work on a tourist visa, he looked for voluntary work.
“It’s a tough situation when you have nothing to do with your day, but this motivated me to volunteer and contribute to society in some way,” Oyugi recalls. “However, when I started volunteering with Sacred Heart Mission, I felt very inspired by the organisation and the work they do.”
Oyugi volunteered 20 hours a week, primarily at Sacred Heart Mission’s op shop in St Kilda, Melbourne.
“What I came to realise was how important the shop was to the community,” he explains.
“Like the other 11 Sacred Heart Mission stores, it has many hidden gems for op shop customers, but for some visitors, it is a safe place where they can shop and interact with other people.
“You chat to people, some of whom are Sacred Heart Mission clients accessing the Dining Hall next door, and you can see how the interaction benefits them – it’s amazing,” he says.
Oyugi says Sacred Heart Mission uses its engagement hub, which includes the Dining Hall, other support services and access to showers, as a way to support people and get them as much or as little help as they need. At Sacred Heart Mission, it all starts with a meal.
Oyugi has also volunteered behind the scenes, supporting the facilities and property management team with administrative duties such as data entry. “I was glad I could help as data forms the basis for any good system, but I’d love to bring my accounting experience to the organisation as well,” he says.
Oyugi has a bachelor of arts in economics and sociology from Kenya, and a masters in project management from the UK. He is also a member of CPA Kenya.
“When I first moved here my Kenyan CPA qualification wasn’t recognised, so I began to undertake some [CPA Australia] subjects, but in August 2019, a memorandum of understanding (MOA) was reached between CPA Kenya and CPA Australia, so I was given CPA status in Australia then,” he says.
In the same month, Oyugi also received his partner visa, meaning he could start the search for paid employment. Since then, he has continued his voluntary work at Sacred Heart Mission, while undertaking casual work and searching for something more permanent.
As a member of CPA Australia, he attends networking events, and he says he meets many interesting people who are supporting his job hunting.
“Now I have had this experience at Sacred Heart Mission, I am open to finding work as an accountant for a charity. My experience could be useful to the management of a charity. As a volunteer, you can only do so much; it would be great to be able to contribute more to the work of the organisation.”
Most of all, Oyugi says he would love to bring his accounting work to the place that has stolen his heart. “I am so impressed by Sacred Heart Mission, and it’s so fulfilling working there – I even get my partner to volunteer there on Sundays with me now,” he says.
“I’d love to be able to earn a living doing what I’m trained to do, but still give back through my work.”
CPA Australia resource:
Tools, templates and resources to support you when performing voluntary or pro bono accounting services. Find out more.
Scared heart mission
Sacred Heart Mission is an independent charity based in St Kilda, Melbourne. Through 20 programs and services, Sacred Heart Mission assists hundreds of people who are experiencing homelessness or disadvantage every day to find shelter, food, care and support. Funds are raised for the organisation in part through 12 op shops around Melbourne that receive donations from the public, and are run mainly by volunteers.