Fast forward eight months, and Prakriti is now co-leader of the youth group. Together with a team of volunteers, she leads a 61-strong group of young people.

The Red Cross group get together each week, alternating between learning emergency preparedness skills and social activities.

“I’m usually a very shy and quiet person,” says Prakriti. “Being a leader has taught me to be social. You find good in the differences that you have. I’ve met lots of people locally, and from around New Zealand, through volunteering with Red Cross.”

So far, the group of young people have completed a first aid course together and are looking to adapt and pilot Red Cross’ psychological first aid course for youth.

They’re also creating a welcoming environment for former refugees, now new Kiwis, in Palmerston North. Several members of the youth group are former refugees.

"We allow them to have a space to communicate with each other, be happy and have fun,” she says.

Next year Prakriti plans on studying medicine at Otago University. She wants to continue to be involved with Red Cross through the Otago University Red Cross Club.

“Don’t think too much about it,” she says, when asked for her advice for young people wanting to get involved with Red Cross.

“Usually when you think too much and calculate each step, you might not take action. Do it spontaneously just because you want to. Do what makes you happy.”

Prakriti (left) with members of the Manawatu youth group, and New Zealand Red Cross Youth Development Advisor, Rod Baxter.