When he first arrived in Australia from Zimbabwe in 2008, little did Ngoni Hwenjere know that a Greek organisation would change his way of life and even give him a Greek name, Polidoros. Thirteen years later, Ngoni says Greek culture is now part of his psyche. He even received the prestigious Outstanding Contribution staff award from the biggest Greek not-for-profit aged care organisation in Victoria, Fronditha Care.
Ngoni decided to leave his motherland, Zimbabwe when he was 23. His parents and his four other siblings immigrated to the UK but, in search of adventure, Ngoni thought Melbourne to be the ideal place to create his new life. Armed with courage, commitment and the lessons learnt from his devoted grandmother who played a fundamental role in his upbringing, he made the move.
“My grandmother always told me to be kind and welcoming. Be a good boy. Her words guide me until today, and it’s what made me who I am now.”
The close relationships with and respect for his elders led Ngoni to work in the aged care sector. He started with Fronditha Care as a personal carer in the organisation’s Clayton residence, working night shifts and studying by day to be an accountant.
“I have a lot of cherished memories. I will never forget one lovely yiayia used to tell me stories from Greece and asked me about my story. I started exploring and loving the Greek culture straight after.”
His opportunity to move to the Finance Department of Fronditha Care came when the then CEO saw him treat a distressed resident and asked him about his background and plans. Six months later, after completing his accounting degree, he knocked on the CEO’s door and joined the finance team in a part-time role. Since then, he has successfully obtained a Masters Degree in Banking & Finance, become a CPA and completed Fronditha Care’s Emerging Leaders Program.
Currently the Financial Controller of Fronditha Care, Ngoni has worked within the team in various capacities and projects displaying diligence, dedication and leadership. He attributes his growth to Fronditha Care and the willingness of his managers to empower him.
“I grew along with Fronditha Care. There are many opportunities to grow here, which is one of the things that I love in the organisation, you can flourish if you want.”
I share the same values as the organisation: Respect, Do Right, Bring Joy, Inspire Better. I espouse and implement all these every day.”
The consistent demonstration of these values is why he was presented Fronditha Care’s 2020 Outstanding Contribution Award, the top award granted at the organisation’s annual Staff Awards.
“I live and breath Fronditha Care, every day. It was my first love in Australia, and I have so many memories from here.”
But what about his dive into the Greek culture. Ngoni proudly says that he feels the Greek culture is very close to his own African culture, and he has now adopted many of its elements into his life.
“I may not look Greek but inside I feel 100% Greek. I even speak to my two children in Greek sometimes. Also, I have a Greek name, Polydoros and every 3 September, I bring sweets to my colleagues because it’s my name day. I love it.”
When he received his award, Ngoni expressed his gratitude to his team that helped him in all his steps. Together, in the highs and lows. He also acknowledged that whatever he does, it is ultimately for the community’s most vulnerable people.
“Yiayia, pappou, wherever you are, you are all so dear to me as you are to Fronditha Care and you will always have a place in my heart,” he passionately says.
Fronditha Care is both proud and privileged to have Ngoni as a member of its family. His story, the ethos of his character and diligence is a source of inspiration for his colleagues, and it is important to recognise how a migrant from Africa has dedicated his efforts to improving the lives of elderly Greeks in Australia.