Assyrians enjoy

assyrian_21978_01_suc51.jpgBy Belinda Nolan

WHEN Sarkheis Haweil was diagnosed with kidney disease three years ago, he never gave up hope he would ultimately beat the disease.

His optimism was rewarded when an older sister came to his rescue, donating one of her own kidneys for a transplant.

Mr Haweil said he would never forget the kind deed that saved his life.

“Every single day I think about it, and I am always grateful,” he said.

Now, the Keilor Downs resident is determined to repay the debt by contributing to the community he loves.

The father-of-three runs the Victorian Assyrian Youth Group, a not-for-profit organisation providing support for young people of the Assyrian culture.

The group received $880 from the State Government this month, to fund activities and outings for the youth.

Mr Haweil said it was important to have a forum for Assyrians to get together and celebrate their unique culture.

“We go on picnics, and play music and games.

It’s about keeping the language and the culture alive, because our kids are our future,” he said.

The community worker said working with the group had given a new meaning to his life since his illness began.

“I just wanted to do something.

Because of my condition, I had the time and I’ve always had a love of working with the community and with young people,” he said.

Mr Haweil said in his time with the group, he had witnessed many love matches made among the young people, many of whom went on to marry and start their own families.

“I guess I’m a bit of a matchmaker,” he joked.

The Keilor Downs man said he was hoping to get more people involved in the organisation, while he started his own handyman business.

For more information about the Victorian Assyrian Youth Group, visit the Victorian Multicultural Commission website at