Jo­lene trades her way to Africa

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

Jo­lene O’Con­nor is sav­ing the world one piece of signed sports mem­o­ra­bilia at a time.

The bike courier from Grey Lynn is on a mis­sion to raise $11,500 for a trip to vol­un­teer in Tan­za­nia in Jan­uary.

As well as work­ing six days a week, the 27-yearold has been fundrais­ing by col­lect­ing signed celebrity items that she plans to auc­tion off on TradeMe next week.

The items that have been do­nated in­clude a signed All Blacks rugby ball, a vest signed by gold-winning Olympic ath­lete Tom Ashley, a rugby league jer­sey signed by the Ki­wis, an orig­i­nal sketch from the bro’Town an­i­ma­tors and many other signed CDs and pieces of cloth­ing.

Jo­lene says it was hard work get­ting the col­lec­tion to­gether.

Her main tac­tic was ap­proach­ing strangers while out cycling and ask­ing if they hap­pened to know any­one fa­mous.

“I would ba­si­cally ask any­one and every­one,” she says.

“It’s al­ways awk­ward in those first few mo­ments when they look at you like you’re crazy.”

She still has no idea how much the auc­tions will fetch but hopes it will be enough to get her to Tan­za­nia.

“It’s a bit nerve-wrack­ing re­ally.”

Trav­el­ling with vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tion Stu­dents Part­ner­ship World­wide, Jo­lene will be based in a vil­lage ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren on health with the main aim of pre­vent­ing AIDS.

A train­ing course when she ar­rives will teach her ev­ery­thing she needs to know, in­clud­ing the ba­sics of the Swahili lan­guage.

Born and raised in South Africa, Jo­lene says her up­bring­ing can prob­a­bly give her some idea of what to ex­pect in Tan­za­nia but she knows it will be very dif­fer­ent.

“I’m sure I will get a cul­ture shock.”

A bit of a “searcher”, her ca­reer so far has in­cluded ev­ery­thing from beauty ther­a­pist to bike courier.

But Jo­lene says she knows hu­man­i­tar­ian work is where her path re­ally lies.

“I know what I want to do with my life now,” she says.

“I’ve got to a point where it’s not all about me any­more.”

The vol­un­teer pe­riod is for nine months but she hopes to carry on af­ter that.

“I’m re­ally hop­ing once I’m there an­other door will open.”

Jo­lene’s TradeMe auc­tions will start on Mon­day night and run for a week.

She is also hold­ing a garage sale in the Grey Lynn Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Sun­day sell­ing old clothes and sec­ond­hand items and is also sell­ing raf­fle tick­ets for a $1600 di­a­mond neck­lace do­nated by Guthries Jew­ellers.

Do­na­tions can also be made at the web­site www. fundraiseon­line.com.au/ jole­neo­con­nor.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Go­ing once: Jo­lene O’Con­nor hopes a TradeMe auc­tion of signed celebrity mer­chan­dise will help her get to Tan­za­nia.

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