As published in The Naracoorte Herald.
Written by Steph Konatar
Mentor: Hafeezullah Haidari with some of his culinary students at Monday night’s function where SBS did filming for a documentary.
Around town everyone knows Hafeezullah Haidari, but soon the work of the selfless philanthropist will be splashed across televisions around the country.
Naracoorte resident Hafeezullah hosted an event at his restaurant Pearl Indian Cuisine, on Monday, as a ‘side dish’ to his interview with SBS reporter, Rhiannon Elston.
The project had its origins when Australian Migrant Resource Centre coordinator Jenny Stirling sent an article from the Naracoorte Herald about Hafeezullah and his brother, Asmat Ullah to the SBS.
The news service will put together a piece about Hafeezullah’s story, his journey from asylum seeker to local volunteer, and Ms Stirling said the world needed to know about his work.
“He’s not only the owner and chef at the Pearl Indian restaurant, but he’s also a wonderful philanthropist type,” she said.
“Hafeezullah is an exemplar of the best of what happens to people when they come to the area and the contributions they can make.”
As well as being an active member of the Naracoorte Rotary Club, the Hazara shows his support for other local volunteers by preparing and donating food at emergencies and not-for-profit events.
“He has an agreement with the CFS that when they’re out fighting fires in the local area he’ll shut up shop and cater for (fire fighters) like a pop-up restaurant,” Ms Stirling said.
“He also trains students from (Naracoorte High School) in his restaurant, mostly those who speak English as a second language.
“He teaches them how to use the language, customer service skills and work ethics, which develops their confidence and work skills.”
Ms Stirling said Hafeezullah had also recently asked a Mount Gambier council for permission to donate food to the homeless once a month.
“He’s such a smiling, happy person and an optimist – he’s always thinking about the community,” she said. “He’s extended the hand of friendship and in turn has extended his family.”
Back in April, Hafeezullah told the Herald as part of National Volunteer Week that volunteering was one small way he can give back to the local community.
As well as being an active Naracoorte Rotary Club member, Hafeezullah is dedicated to supporting the work of other local volunteers by preparing and donating food at emergencies and not-for-profit events.
“I have a very deep connection with Naracoorte and volunteering is something I’ve always been very passionate about. I’m more than happy to close my restaurant for a few hours and feed local CFS volunteers when they are on a call out, for example,” he said.