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My neighbours by Zhiping Qi (from China)

A beautiful story of volunteering from one of my Chinese students

When I retired in 2015, after many years as an agricultural researcher, I came to Australia from China. I started living with my only daughter and her family in Sydney. My wife and I help my daughter by looking after our grandchildren and doing all the housework.

One day I cleared away some rubbish, i found several empty containers of chlorine, but I didn't know each of them cost $10. The next day was garbage collection day. So, I put three of the containers into our yellow garbage bin. As the bin was full enough, I was unable to squeeze the remaining two containers. I found that my neighbour’s yellow bin was almost empty.

I wanted to ask my neighbour if I could put my plastic containers into their yellow bin. I went to press their doorbell, but after waiting about 10 minutes, nobody opened the door. So, I decided to put the two containers into their yellow bin without their permission. About half an hour later, I found the two yellow containers besides our yellow bin with a note in Chinese - ‘Don't put your garbage into my bin!’ I was so embarrassed, I had no idea! To this day, I don't do anything unless I get permission.

For almost two years, we have lived in harmony with our neighbours. Whenever I meet my neighbours, we always greet each other with a warm smile or a wave. I often volunteer my service to assist my neighbours. For instance, two of my neighbours had planted mango trees in their backyard. After many years, the mango trees have grown very big, but didn't blossom. Last year, I helped them to cut. A lot of the extra branches, and this year, the mango trees began to blossom and yield fruit.

My other neighbour is an elderly English lady. She is too old to start her lawn mower. Last year, when she needed to mow her lawn, she asked me to start the mower for her. When I started the mower, I decided to mow the lawn for her. This year her mower was taken away by her daughter. When her lawn needs mowing, I use my mower to mow her lawn.

The elderly lady has a farm and she often goes to live on her farm for two or three weeks. When she is away, I help to mow her lawn, clean her yard, feed her hen and collect eggs for her. She is very pleased with my voluntary labour.

I feel it is important to live with neighbours in harmony, and as a migrant important to get along with neighbours and offer help whenever needed.

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