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Ashley Bulgarelli



Marist Volunteers Australia Coordinator

28/03/2014: Australia

Ashley Bulgarelli tell us about his experience as Coordinator of the Marist Volunteers of Australia and how international volunteering in Australia is organized and his dreams for its future.


When I was offered the position of Marist Volunteers Australia (MVA) Coordinator one of my first thoughts – after saying a very hurried yes – was, “I wonder what far off destinations I will get to visit?” In April I will be visiting Timor-Leste but already feel like I have been to half the world through the plethora of Marist Brothers I have been communicating with. Isn’t it great to be part of a worldwide presence of Marists and not stuck in an insular, inwards looking community? 

Arriving back in Brisbane, Australia after spending two years working in Ghana was one of the most confronting experiences of my life. Gone were the days of idling under palm trees and riding my purple pushbike between villages, and suddenly, in one big wave of business-clothed white Australians walking faster than I had in years, I was back. Fast forward two years and I find myself writing this introduction as the Coordinator of MVA and back in a space that I feel at home in.

MVA sprouted as a way to meet the needs of lay Marists who expressed a desire to work with Brothers in communities and projects overseas. MVA enrolled its first volunteers in 2012 thanks to months of preparation and diligence by my predecessor, Catherine Hannon, and falls under the umbrella of Marist Solidarity (MSol) – the overarching brand of international aid of the Province of the Australian Marist Brothers. 

Whether it be working with Cambodian children with a disability; supporting Burmese refugees in Thailand; or teaching English in Vietnam, MVA is supporting communities of Brothers across Asia-Pacific and beyond. This year we will be placing over 20 volunteers into communities abroad and the best part is that there is no typical volunteer. From qualified teachers with decades of experience to recently graduated students, MVA caters for all and serves all. 

Working and living in a Marist community abroad is a truly special experience and the learning goes both ways. Immersing oneself in a rich, loving community can teach you more about yourself than you would think. Our volunteers don’t end their journey when they bid farewell to their adopted community. Many come back with a passion for international development, a passion for Marist, so they continue to involve themselves heavily in their local community. This is what volunteering is about. It plants something inside of you that never dies.

My dreams for the future are big - some would say too big. I wish for world peace; I wish to cure the world of disease; I wish to educate the masses. In my life this will never happen, so I start small. With MVA as my vehicle, I believe in the power of knowledge and sharing. Marists have the ability to transcend borders and apply themselves at the root of society and through MVA I plan on supporting Marist communities abroad with volunteers and human spirit. With Marcellin by our side, together we strive to make this world a better place because young people matter!


Ashley Bulgarelli - Marist Volunteers Australia Coordinator and Marist Solidarity Team Member

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