A Hawke's Bay teen recently joined a group of charitable high school students to gain an insight into international poverty.
Taradale High School's April Rowland was one of 30 students from the top earning World Vision 40-Hour Famine schools to attend the four-day conference in Auckland earlier this month.
She joined representatives from New Zealand's other top earners for the annual World Vision and Sanitarium Scholarship Week for the four-day course designed to challenge and inspire the young leaders to do more in their communities.
April said the course was enlightening, especially a realistic role-play where students acted as refugees fleeing a conflict.
"This week has truly opened my eyes," she said. "It was an emotional rollercoaster; the fear of having big men with guns yell at you was terrifying."
The re-enactment was based on the current situation in Mali. "The silence was the loudest part of the simulation. It said so much more than stats and a power point could ever say. We felt only a tiny fraction of the fear that refugees in Africa feel every day," she said.
Other activities included completing a community mapping exercise in a fast-changing Auckland suburb to identify community resources, learning from leading New Zealand speakers about leadership and multiculturalism and hearing from World Vision development specialists about responding to emergencies, child protection and advocacy.
"Meeting some amazing people has given me the drive to do more with my life and become a part of the revolution," April said.
Students were also joined by the four 2013 World Vision and Sanitarium Youth Ambassadors, who were chosen from among applicants across New Zealand and will travel to visit projects in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, where the money raised in the 40-Hour Famine 2013 will be used.