What made you decide to join Red Cross?  

When I was 10 years old, I saw the Red Cross in action in Beirut, where I was living. They were helping refugees in Lebanon who were then being camped in schools. It was very inspiring to see a lot of Red Cross volunteers helping them out. At that point, I said, ‘When I grow up, I want to be able to do that.’ So, when I arrived New Zealand and had the opportunity to join the DWST, I immediately jumped on it.  

What part of Red Cross’ work do you admire the most?  

In Lebanon, Red Cross operates an ambulance service, and at that time they were also handling the housing of refugees, providing them food and essential items. One thing that really amazes me about Red Cross – with what they were doing back then and what they continue to do now – is the way they were providing basic support to people. Just being there with people and families that were in crisis makes a big difference. Back then in Beirut, this was something I felt helped a lot of people, especially to a lot of people who did not have relatives around to help them when they’re feeling a little bit alone or out of place. Having someone from the Red Cross to turn to really made a difference.   

How would you describe your role as a DWST member?  

As a DWST member, my main role is to provide for the basic needs of people who have been impacted by a crisis. It is not about doing heroic stuff – it is more about providing emotional and psychological support to people who may be experiencing anxiety or distress due unexpected crisis. It comes in the simple form of just being there to make sure that they have food, blankets and clothing. I am an Information and Technology (IT) professional. I work from home and being part of the DWST team helps me be more connected outside – to the community that I am part of.  

If you could share one thing you’ve learnt while volunteering as a DWST member, what would it be?  

It is important to be prepared for emergencies as no one’s going to be more responsible for you than you are. So, the more you’re ready for the unexpected, the easier it will be for you to overcome a crisis. It is a good idea to have a couple of days’ worth of food and water, to have a plan where you and your family will go and how you’re going there to meet up with loved ones in there is an emergency. 

About the Disaster Welfare and Support Team

New Zealand Red Cross has disaster response teams across Aotearoa made up of highly committed, multi-skilled emergency service volunteers. They have a wide variety of professional backgrounds, delivering essential services during and immediately following a disaster. 

Team members train regularly. They will mostly train and respond to emergencies in their local area, but may travel throughout New Zealand supporting other Red Cross teams when needed.

To know more about DWST and how you can potentially help, click here.