Little did she know that during her visit she would witness many people living in poverty and dire circumstances, sights which led her to dedicating her life to human rights and social justice.
‘‘It was an eye-opening experience and I realised how big the disparities between the rich and poor were,’’ Melissa said. ‘‘The rich had cleaners, drivers, gardeners whereas the poor were unable to provide even basic living necessities for their families. It was fundamentally unjust.’’
The Beecroft resident, 25, who recently graduated with degrees in international studies and law from the UNSW, will begin on a 12-month placement in September at Maliana in rural East Timor.
‘‘It is the poorest country in South East Asia and until recently the world’s newest country,’’ Melissa said. She will live with a local family and become a field work supervisor with Haburas Moris, a nongovernment organisation, to help with staff development.
‘‘These staff go into villages to train locals in gender advocacy, nutrition and health, community infrastructure, agriculture and environmental sustainability,’’ she said. ‘‘I’ve always been interested in community development and poverty eradication and this placement will enable me to put what I learnt into practice.’’
Article written by Nour Azhar. Reproduced from Northern District Times