Discovering a Passion with a Purpose-Volunteering

Today was especially hard as I woke up to the news of a medical complex in Syria bombarded leaving a child dying and others injured. That was heartbreaking! It was bad enough seeing and hearing about the deadly attack on a humanitarian aid convoy that happened recently in Syria as well. That was atrocious! The continuous economic vulnerability, the climate change, the violence and the persisting conflicts have displaced more than 65 million people in the world. I feel so convicted to do something. The more I think about it, I get the kicks and the urge to drop everything and go and make a contribution. We should care. Its the right thing to do. The images of refugees stranded in Greece crowding onto platforms on railways across Europe is haunting. They are blocked from travelling farther. Furthermore, the images of thousands including children in boats trying to escape as far as possible is often stirring. There are even more trekking alternately thousand miles for a safe passage or haven. These evoke moral responsibility for us. It should.

Recently I had submitted a NZ Red Cross Application to become an International Aid Worker. Low and behold, the response came back last week to say I wasn’t successful. Can you believe it? My heart sank like an anchor. It was a deep sea sink. I was so upset that I was tearful most of the way home from work. I cried some more when I got home-more feeling sorry for myself I suppose. I reflected on the experience and the set back. You see, I admired the actress Angelina Jolie so much for her work being a UN Ambassador to the war-torned countries. I wanted to do something very similar. But of course, not in light of her recent media press with her personal life-it wouldn’t be my intention. I have a far better purpose in life I do believe. My passion lies heavily with doing humanitarian work. The feedback I got was “there were gaps in my CV that needed strengthening” Really? Sure! Anybody who knew me well would know that my life revolved around contributing to the community in a big way. I volunteered a lot. A big part of my life fabricated around the communities here in New Zealand, the village where I live and of course globally.

The big Christchurch earthquake that happened on 22nd February 2011 which tragically killed 185 people happened in our own backyard. Yes it was traumatising and agonising. It was a major turning point in my life too. I remembered clearly trying to help from Wellington. At work, I organised a very big pack of sanitaries and toiletries to go down to Christchurch through the boys who were driving down in a big van on the Interislander Ferry. Oh Christchurch was special. Truly special. Despite the chaos, the relentless fears and the devastating loss of lives, it made me realise I wanted to give back to the community and help out as much as I can. Yes they were my values in a big way. Besides that, my parents were big givers to our communities too and they have always instilled those values to us-giving back to the community.

I went on to ask at the local Citizens Advice Bureau( to see where they would need my skills most being a Registered Nurse. They had two options for me despite the multitudes of options I could choose from. I can either become a Womens Refuge Support Worker or a Refugee Volunteer. The latter requires some intense training that would see a Certificate in Refugee Settlement. I took this volunteer role wholeheartedly without any knowledge. This was a life changer. I have not regretted anything since. It was the best decisions in life. I have embraced it and seized the opportunities. The benefits have been powerful impacts-ones that I have profited from.

It has been more than six years on and volunteering has become more rewarding in so many unique ways. Often I would hear someone comment as to why I would want to do more despite already giving and serving people professionally at work. You see it’s different. I do believe it’s different. This is not a paid job in comparison firstly. The invaluable experiences and the exposure is something that will follow me and stay for a lifetime. These people have a lot to teach us in their ability to stay surviving and to reach for something better. There is a lot of positivity in that and important lessons to learn from. More importantly, they have taught me some incredible life characteristics like hard work, perserverance, the resolve to overcome challenges, problem-solving skills, self-sufficiency and motivation. 

2 Replies to “Discovering a Passion with a Purpose-Volunteering”

  1. Leina I am filled with admiration for all you do and the way you are.

    You started off this blog with news from Syria. The news this morning is even worse:

    Mortally wounded civilian casualties are being zipped into body bags while still alive as the bombardment of Aleppo overwhelms the city’s handful of remaining doctors, says the head of a Syrian relief organisation.


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