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Octavia is a former refugee from ex-Yugoslavia who arrived in New Zealand in 1999 with her family. As a member of New Zealand Red Cross’ National Youth Panel, she helps shape the vision of Red Cross for young people.
"I’ve been with Red Cross for just over two years. I joined DWST after seeing them in Aotea Square. They had an ‘Are you prepared for disasters?’ display and I got talking to one of the guys about how he was involved and what he was doing. That’s how I found out that there were the fortnightly trainings and it was also around the time that they were recruiting", she says.
For Octavia, Red Cross’ reputation in the community is what made her want to get involved.
Born and raised in South Africa, Roland has lived in New Zealand for about 12 years. His background in learning and development has grown into a desire to help others.
"About nine years ago I got involved with the refugee settlement programme out in Mangere, so I went on a six-week evening course prior to working with the Iraqi family that came in", says Roland.
Bitten by the bug of volunteering, last year Roland decided to look for another way to give back to his community.
“Helping people felt rewarding and that’s what motivates me to do volunteer work, it continually does,” says Roland.
An IT architect by trade, Matt has been involved with New Zealand Red Cross since 2009 and is currently team leader of DWST in Auckland. Giving something back is important to him, and through DWST deployments, he’s helped people during events like the 2016 November earthquake.
"You meet some fantastic people and you get to make a meaningful contribution to the society in which you live," says Matt.
“You get some skills and good training, and you are part of an organisation that has an amazing history around the world. The fantastic people are a global phenomenon.”
Mendelson Dela Cuerta
Mendelson relocated to New Zealand in 2018 after a decade-long career volunteering with Philippine Red Cross, where he helped strengthen the resilience of local communities as a member of its disaster response team. He’s now continuing his passion for volunteering in Auckland.
"If I can inspire people, that’s my motivation. If you’re prepared, you can lessen the impact of a disaster and I want to spread that information to people," says Mendelson.
Myksha was born in South Africa and stories her mother shared about how different things were back then have inspired her to help others, not only as a volunteer, but in her career as a nurse.
"I’ve always felt that if you are able to, you should always give back because not everybody can, or they don’t have the same means or same ability to help others. It’s just being human."
Myksha has been a DWST member since 2017. What motivates her is the team environment – it’s friendly, supportive and teaches her skills she can apply to anything no matter what she’s doing.
“It just really gives you that satisfied feeling knowing that you’re doing something good,” she says
Our Disaster Welfare and Support teams are made up of highly committed, multi-skilled volunteers. Read more about their responsibilities, training and how you could join the team.