As part of the project's commitment to recognise the work of our volunteers, whose dedication is relied upon, each team leader has been asked to nominate one outstanding volunteer for 2016. These volunteers will be showcased over the next four weeks.
I am sometimes struck by a frustration that I can’t do more in the circumstances, as well as a certain guilt that afterwards I can so easily go back to my normal life. But this is why I think volunteering is so important. While one person can’t change the world by themselves, we can make it better if we each make an effort to contribute in our own way, big or small.
Hear from Raphael below:
This is my second year volunteering with the Human Rights team of the Community Justice Project. The experience has been sombering, taxing and logistically difficult at times, but ultimately one of most worthwhile things I’ve done while at law school.
The letter writing campaign involves meeting with the families of refugees who have fled their home country and are now living in a second, often more dangerous country, which do not provide them with legal status or protection. Our work involves writing letters on their behalf to the UNHCR or Immigration New Zealand, advocating for why they should be approved for resettlement.
The meetings themselves are generally quite distressing in terms of the content matter, often made harder by a language barrier that requires the use of translators. Maintaining professionalism and emotional distance while hearing about truly heart-breaking stories was something I struggled with initially, but has been an important skill in developing my effective advocacy capabilities.
A lot of what happens around law school, and university life in general, occurs in a certain bubble. It is very easy to take for granted the privileges, even the very basic ones, that a lot of us enjoy. While I can never fully comprehend the hardship that refugees and their families experience, volunteering with the CJP has helped shaped my perspective and envisage the sort of society I want to live in. I am sometimes struck by a frustration that I can’t do more in the circumstances, as well as a certain guilt that afterwards I can so easily go back to my normal life. But this is why I think volunteering is so important. While one person can’t change the world by themselves, we can make it better if we each make an effort to contribute in our own way, big or small.
Outside of CJP and law school I am kept occupied by the perpetual hijinks of RA-life at Te Puni Village. While a demanding role, it is one that never wants for excitement. It has certain similarities to CJP work in that you are interacting with people face to face and hopefully making a difference. Maybe somewhat incongruous with my human rights focus, I have just finished a turn playing a Kim Jong Un-inspired character in the Wellington Law Revue. Outrageous and silly, this has been a great outlet from the serious and often challenging aspects of studying law. At the end of this year I will be Summer Clerking at Bell Gully and continue to discover how what is learned in the classroom can be applied in practice.
I am excited to continue my volunteering work with CJP and seek out more opportunities to transfer the skills I am learning into substantive good in my community.
About this Feed:
The Wellington Community Justice Project News Feed is maintained by our Secretary, Olivia Hyland.