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Shiva Gounden

Meet Shiva Gounden, twice nominated for the Australian of the Year award in 2016 and 2017, humanitarian, self described misfit, currently working as a Multicultural Youth Coordinator for PCYC NSW, this is his story.

I have always found myself as a bit of a misfit, inquisitive by nature and dynamic by personality. My passion to give and serve has always been rooted in the principles of love and happiness which I have been fortunate to receive from the people in my village in Fiji. My vision has always to been to be a humanitarian or someone that works within community development especially working with children.

I found that the best way to advocate for peace and love in the form of unity and harmony is through community service. Mahatma Gandhi said “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. It is a literal representation of my life. A misfit finding exactly what makes him tick through the art of service.

I found that you gain a lot of respect and you create an environment of curiosity to enquire within when you engage yourself in alleviating the concerns of others.

Every program that I have been extremely fortunate to be a part of, has given me a sense of satisfaction and gratitude. The cultural resilience of the indigenous, the sense of excitement of refugees and migrants to learn a new skill, the youthful exuberance of young people, the look of innocence and strength of children facing extreme poverty, the collaborative energy of various religions and races and the love of the elderly have always continued to push me to explore new boundaries and strive to become a better me.

Professionally, a program that I was extremely proud of is the Cyber Youth Computer Empowerment Program. It’s a one-on-one technology program run entirely on volunteers for the last 14 years. The program extrinsically helped refugees, migrants, elderly, indigenous and people with intellectual disabilities gain technological skills tailored to their needs. Intrinsically the program built on confidence, connections, employability skills and socialisation skills for the individuals and volunteers. Over 14 years the program has involved over 1300 volunteers and participants.

My roots are in a small village called Navoli in Fiji in the district of Ba. Growing up and surrounded by poverty, I owe my passion for serving to my parents. My parents were both from a village in Ba, Fiji. They worked extremely hard to provide whatever opportunities my siblings and I have on a platter. Till this date, they work tirelessly to ensure that our family stands on pillars of strength and love. My life has been shared across my village of birth (Navoli), a town in Fiji called Lautoka and Western Sydney in Australia. I have four brothers (one of whom is my identical twin). Each of them have different personalities and a variety of aspects that I am blessed to learn from. The essence of family from my older brother, the focus on goals and direction from my twin and the carefree attitude from my younger brother.

They all have had a huge hand in shaping my outlook in life. They say “you can take the boy out of a village but you cannot take the village out of the boy”.

My village and my spirituality has made me endeavour to make my life my message.

Every day and every professional and community change has been a development of my abilities and skills to achieve what I want to. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.. Just like any form of art such as music, drama, sport community work and humanitarian assistance all require a lot of hard work, training and continuous passion.

If you are willing to work hard, get the appropriate training and if your passion sustains, you can do it.