Volunteer bracing for first mission
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.