Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chantelle Zei volunteering with Intercept Poverty

In this candid encounter, Tanya Lacy speaks with Chantelle. We learn about how this vibrant and passionate 20 year old woman is so inspiring to many and learn how fortunate we are to have her working with us at Intercept Poverty. Welcome aboard Chantelle. Thank-you for sharing the passion.

TL: So tell us about you Chantelle?

CZ: I am 20 and have an older sister.I grew up in Altona Meadows and attended Queen of Peace Primary School then went on to complete High School at
MacKillop College in Werribee. I am currently studying International Development at La Trobe University while working part time as a Display Coordinator for World Vision Australia as well as a swimming Instructor at Shawn’s Swim School. I enjoy being with my friends and eating at restaurants with exotic cuisines around Melbourne, I love travelling and am always planning my next adventure.

TL: What was the turning point or defining moment for you when you decided you wanted to make a difference in the world?

CZ:I began having an interest in social justice in primary school when I started running the 40 hour famine. This niggling interest only further developed as I began to find out about the injustices in the world and I came to the point where I was unable to look in our fridge or enjoy a home cooked meal without feeling immensely guilty for the luck I had received. I knew I had to do something so I began volunteering with World Vision at the age of 15, which even further opened up my eyes to the world’s problems and ignited my passion to continue with this work.

TL: What is the work or projects you have done so far?

CZ:I have organised and assisted in many varying projects over time. From running simple fundraisers such as trivia nights and auctions to being on the team of co-ordinators that organised and managed the Global Leadership Conventions, an annual World Vision, three day, youth advocacy and awareness camp.

On my first journey to Africa I visited the Maria Romero Children’s Home where I began collecting data and information that enabled me to set up the Maria Romero Children’s Charity fund. The main aspect of this fund was child sponsorship and monthly contributions from donors whilst also raising awareness on issues regarding orphans and poverty in Kenya.

TL: What do you feel you were put on the earth to do? What's the biggest problem you'd like to fix on the planet?

CZ:I believe the biggest problem in the world is the detrimental mindsets that people in today’s society have towards issues of poverty and people living in poverty. The world has the power, the resources, the food, the money, the knowledge to end world poverty. The world even has set targets and a timeframe, (Millennium development goals) but what we don’t have is the desire. I believe that once people’s hearts and minds are opened up to the cause then they will also have a passion ignited to change the world that they are apart of. I believe that I was put on this earth to help ignite passion amongst people who can make a difference, whilst working alongside the worlds poor in our fight against poverty.

TL: What is the most memorable experience or defining moment for you so far?

CZ: Whilst in Kenya I was visiting a World Vision project in the remote district of Makueni. When we arrived at the office I met employees from four separate NGO’s and an employee from the UN, that had all come to meet and discuss the drought crisis in the area at that time. This really brought home the fact to me that on the ground every organisation was working together, without rivalry, just coming together for a common goal. As I was also there and doing similar things on a much smaller scale, I felt like I too had a role in this big problem that is poverty. I felt part of a worldwide team, connected by the same passion, fighting the same cause and it was in that moment that I knew this work would become a career for me.

TL: What is your vision for the future?

CZ: Firstly my vision for my own future is to continue in my studies to complete my degree and then use my knowledge in some way, in the field, on a grassroots level in developing countries. My vision for the future of this world is to see individuals becoming more aware and more empathetic to other individuals. I desperately want to see the Millennium development goals achieved in the timeframe set out as we can not let these problems go on for a second longer.

TL: Why have you felt connected to Intercept Projects and Intercept Poverty?

CZ: I feel that Intercept Poverty is able to make a sustainable difference directly and efficiently. With the world in the situation it is we do not have a single moment to waste being caught up in red tape that many of the large NGO face. I feel Intercept will work with some of poverty and developments biggest sceptics, changing habits and mindsets of organisations that are looking to make a difference. With its direct and immediate approach at a grassroots level Intercept poverty is an organisation that matches my personality and personal goals.

TL: If there a key message you would like to get across to people?
What is your key message for the world?

CZ: My key message for people is just take a moment to look around you, look beyond their shores and look at the world that we live in. If this is the kind of place that you would dream up without making any changes then do nothing. But if you see social injustices that you disagree with, if you see unnecessary suffering and pain, then do something, do anything that will make the changes you want to see in the world.

TL: What key lessons do you think we can learn from big organisations working with 3rd world countries? What have you seen first hand?

CZ:I believe the most important aspect of development is self empowerment. Encouraging local communities to assess their needs and desires for there community and having active participation in the changes they want to see. This is definitely happening in big organisations in the field otherwise development would just not work and would be rejected by communities. I also believe big organisations work in the field work in partnership, alongside each other and that is a big key in sustainable development as it unites all the power and resources we have to generate larger, more sustainable impacts.

TL: What part do you think youth have to play in this work in the world?

CZ: The youth are our future. Past generations have failed to end world poverty so it is now up to us. We cannot let this be the failure of our generation. The youth of today have the voice to be heard and the world is starting to listen. The youth have new ideas and a fresh passion that can truly, without fail, achieve the Millennium development goals.

Chantelle joins Intercept Poverty in a leadership capacity of Program Co-ordinator

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