Elodie Berthe has a passion for human rights issues on a global level.
The 26-year-old, originally from Belgium, moved to New Zealand and is particularly interested in helping vulnerable children. She has taken on a number of roles with New Zealand Red Cross in Hamilton, including refugee resettlement volunteer and community development worker. She is also a committee member for the Waikato Branch of Save the Children, and believes it is important vulnerable people have a voice.
“I am truly passionate about helping vulnerable people, such as children and former refugees,” she says. “I think people need to know their rights and be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential.”
Elodie has been involved in a number of projects to help these groups. Last year, she co-ordinated a photographic exhibition in Hamilton called Take a Walk in My Shoes for World Refugee Day to raise awareness on refugees. As a volunteer for Save the Children, she has been organising different fundraising events to help improve the life of children overseas.
Elodie is nearing the end of four months in Vanuatu, where she has been working for UNICEF (the United Nations agency helping children) to help report on the rebuild of the country following the devastating Cyclone Pam, which hit in March 2015. She has frequently informed on UNICEF’s work through photos, videos and blog articles to raise awareness and influence the international community to continue to support communities in need around the world. She has been able to see first hand how the generosity of New Zealanders has been put to good use and encourages people to holiday in Vanuatu, as vital part of their economy.
“My experience in Vanuatu has been amazing,” she says. “Because it was an emergency, I have learned a lot very quickly. I have gained great experience in the field of communication. I have also met incredible Ni-Vanuatu people with amazing resilience. The children there are extremely cute and it has been so rewarding to work with them. Their stories of the cyclone are impressive. I have really enjoyed my work in Vanuatu with UNICEF. This experience has reinforced my passion and my will to help vulnerable people.”
Elodie hopes she can encourage other people to think more about the world around them and how vulnerable populations live. She encourages other young people to contribute where they can
“We tend to forget how fortunate we are. Working with vulnerable people reminds me that you shouldn’t take for granted what you have. Once you do that, your life seems suddenly much better, and you learn to be happier.”
Photo © UNICEF Pacific/2015