Vol­un­teer brac­ing for first mis­sion

Upper Hutt Leader - - NEWS - By NI­CHOLAS BOY­ACK

Liv Lof­tus is a brave young woman.

The 21-year-old is off to Pa­pua New Guinea in mid-Fe­bru­ary with Vol­un­teer Ser­vice Abroad.

It is a coun­try with a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing dan­ger­ous for for­eign­ers, es­pe­cially women.

When told the desti­na­tion, she ad­mit­ted it was not what she ex­pected.

‘‘It was lit­tle a bit of a shock but I can rise to the chal­lenge. I am more afraid of the mos­qui­toes than the salt­wa­ter croc­o­diles. Mos­qui­toes have dengue fever and malaria.’’

Not all the com­ments she has re­ceived have been pos­i­tive. She’s had col­leagues jok­ing with her about PNG’s can­ni­bal past and that she might be on the menu.

But she is ide­al­is­tic, with a strong so­cial con­science, and wants to make a dif­fer­ence there.

‘‘I know ev­ery­thing will not be rain­bows and but­ter­flies for the 10 months I am there but at least I will have the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing good.’’

Miss Lof­tus was born in Eng­land and her fa­ther served in the Bri­tish mil­i­tary in a num­ber of coun­tries.

Ed­u­cated at a pri­vate board­ing school, she is aware that gave her a big ad­van­tage in life. ‘‘I feel quite priv­i­leged and that I have to give some­thing back.

‘‘Why should peo­ple miss out ( on hav­ing a good life) just be­cause of where they were born.’’

Her base will be in a dis­trict cap­i­tal of Kopoko, where she will be work­ing with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Hav­ing stud­ied Pa­cific ge­og­ra­phy and de­vel­op­ment at univer­sity, Miss Lof­tus says she is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with peo­ple from a dif­fer­ent back­ground.

She is only too aware that it is a dan­ger­ous coun­try and she will need to be care­ful.

‘‘As long as I am not stupid and don’t go out at night by my­self, and talk to lo­cals about where I can go, I should be safe.’’

Her fa­ther served in Su­dan and with his mil­i­tary back­ground, he has pro­vided plenty of ad­vice.

In the long run, she would like to be in­volved in do­ing some­thing that makes New Zealan­ders aware of the is­sues that face peo­ple in a coun­try like Pa­pua New Guinea.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple live in their own bub­ble and do not un­der­stand what is go­ing on in other coun­tries.’’

Cur­rently liv­ing in Pine­haven with her par­ents, Miss Lof­tus is al­ready think­ing about what she can do when she re­turns.

Hav­ing spent 18 months at Chilton St James, she wants to go back to the school to talk to the girls about life in a Third World coun­try.

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