In February, our five passionate and enthusiastic Youth Advocates set off on the trip of a lifetime to see the Leprosy Mission in action in Nepal. The group spent eight days in Kathmandu visiting Leprosy Mission projects, learning about the medical and social implications of leprosy at the Mission's Anandaban Hospital and trekking through the beautiful countryside that surrounds Nepal's largest city.
Stacey spent 2010 in Auckland working at Windsor Park Baptist Church. This year she is a first year business studies student at Massey University in Palmerston North.
"This trip is going to change my life. I can't wait to come back and share my experiences with the youth of New Zealand.
I hope to come back from this trip feeling even more passionate than I do now about helping people living in poverty. I am really looking forward to what God is going to do in my life and how I am going to be challenged. I am also looking forward to meeting the Nepali people and to coming home with incredible stories to inspire others. This year I hope to get my church on board with awareness-raising and fundraising for the Leprosy Mission and I am going to organise speaking arrangements at churches in Palmerston North.
Yeri has just completed her fifth year in medicine at the University of Auckland and has a passion for medical mission. She has been heavily involved in Christian student life since moving to Auckland.
"This is a fantastic opportunity and I feel really privileged to be an advocate for the Leprosy Mission. I look forward to coming back and sharing our experiences."
I am really looking forward to seeing first-hand the work of the Leprosy Mission in Nepal and am really excited about having the opportunity to meet the Nepali people. I hope that I can build strong relationships with the other advocates so we can encourage each other to go on medical missions in the future. When we get back I want to be a good advocate for the Mission's work, encourage others to pray for the Mission and the people they support, and apply what I have learnt as an intern working in medicine.
Vicky is a second year student at Auckland University of Technology studying towards a Bachelor of Communications. She is a member of Whangaparaoa Baptist Church.
"I am so excited to start this new journey with the Leprosy Mission. I am ready to be filled with a passion for those in need and then to come back and share that passion with others."
I am really excited that I have the opportunity to see first-hand the difference the Leprosy Mission's projects are making in the lives of leprosy-affected families. I am really looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and getting involved with the Mission's work. I am also really looking forward to the scenery which is going to be amazing. When I get home I want to be an active youth advocate who instils a passion in others to support the Leprosy Mission's work.
Eve is a second year student studying towards a Bachelor of Nursing and Arts. A member of Mt Roskill Baptist Church, Eve is also involved with the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship at Auckland University.
"I am really looking forward to making new friends with like-minded people and to taking time on the trip to reflect on our experiences and what we have witnessed."
I think I am going to experience some culture shock when I witness how families affected by leprosy live, but I am also expecting to feel compelled to help change their circumstances for the better. I am really looking forward to spending time with the Nepali people - especially the children and babies - and hearing their stories. I am also excited about making new friendships. When we come back to New Zealand I want to use my experiences to inspire others to help eradicate leprosy and fight for those who cannot always fight for themselves.
Abigail is studying towards a Bachelor of Pharmacy and Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at the University of Auckland. She is a member of the missions committee. She is also involved in Youthline and students with special needs at Pakuranga College.
"I hope that through this trip I will be able to make a difference in the lives of leprosy-affected people. I really want to get to know God's heart for the poor, defenceless and discriminated against."
I hope that during this trip I can get to know God's heart for leprosy-affected individuals and families, and get to know the people of Nepal and their way of life. I really hope I can be a blessing to them. I am also really looking forward to the trek and seeing the beautiful views. After the trip I want to raise awareness about leprosy and speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves.
During 2011 the Youth Advocates spread the word about the Mission's work in Nepal and helped built a network of young supporters who are keen to make a difference in the lives of people affected by leprosy