Destination central Africa

By Aaron van Delden

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On a Saturday night last November, Pam Hiroti walked home after a shift at Liquorland Wanganui and googled "voluntary work overseas".

Later that night, she applied to go to Rwanda with the Global Volunteer Network (GVN), and by Monday morning, with only $1000 to her name, she had been accepted. So began a furious sausage-sizzle fundraising campaign.

Miss Hiroti, 26, will depart for the four-week placement next Tuesday, as will another Wanganui woman, Ann Owen.

Mrs Owen wanted to do a similar thing in Mozambique, but that fell through. When a mutual friend told her about Miss Hiroti's plans, the two agreed to do the GVN programme together.

They complement each other. While Miss Hiroti worries about missing flights, Mrs Owen is more preoccupied with their destination and its association with genocide, poverty and HIV/Aids.

Both women needed $7500 to fund their placements, which includes flights, accommodation and food. They'll be in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, for four weeks from March 1 at one of four orphanages in the area GVN supports, mending clothes, feeding children, helping teach, cooking and cleaning.

Mrs Owen said the orphanages housed a wide age range, from newborns to 20-year-olds. "Half of me is excited, and the other half is really scared," Mrs Owen said.

Miss Hiroti said she imagined the orphaned children would be grateful for whatever they received but would teach the women as much in return.

"We'll come back with a lesson on life," she said.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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