Rez was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan on 11 August 1991, as her family escaped persecution in their homeland of Kurdistan. She was awarded the Young New Zealander of the Year 2017 for her services to human rights and was a Women of Influence Finalist 2017. She is a lawyer and advocate for human rights, gender equality, and refugee rights.
Bilal is originally from Afghanistan but has been living in New Zealand for the past 18 years. He has recently graduated from the University of Auckland with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and he currently work two jobs - as youth worker for NZ Red Cross and as a behaviour therapist with children on the autism spectrum.
Nosia, a former refugee, was born in Burundi, Central East Africa. Currently, she is a law student at the University of Auckland. Nosia finds it rejuvenating waking to an early morning workout at the gym. She enjoys meeting new people and learning about different cultures.
Coming from a refugee background, Erfan is forever grateful to his parents and New Zealand for the opportunities they have provided him. Given this, Erfan is eager to make the most of every opportunity and give back wherever he can.
Grace currently works as an administrator in a counselling firm in West Auckland. Throughout her Psychology degree, she was heavily involved in working with at-risk youth in her community. This, combined with a yearlong internship with mentoring organisation MATES, fueled a passion for youth mentoring.
Taza is originally from Afghanistan but has been living in New Zealand for over 13 years. He is currently in high school completing year 13. Taza has a great passion for sports and oral presentations. His personal philosophy is that in order to change the world one must change himself.
Patricia is a fourth year BA/LLB(Hons) conjoint studying at the University of Auckland. She has a strong interest in youth advocacy and refugee law.
As former refugee, Amir entered New Zealand at age seven after spending several months in a refugee camp in Thailand. Currently, Amir is a student at Massey University studying Economics and Finance. Amir's passion is in Economic Development and helping under-developed nations lift its people out of poverty.
Bhavini is originally from Zimbabwe and has been living in New Zealand for the past 13 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Geography and History and a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) from the University of Auckland. She currently teaches at a secondary school in West Auckland and believes in providing opportunities for growth for people with refugee backgrounds.
Chloe-Rose is an Immigration Lawyer and has done some youth advocacy work overseas. She loves meeting people from different parts of the world and is really inspired by the courage and strength of refugees.
James is a fourth year BA/LLB student with a major in Japanese. He is deeply interested in developing critical foundational skills to help others aim themselves towards healthy and happy futures.
Design, photography and frank conversations sum up Devanga. Born in Sri Lanka, she moved to Wellington when she was aged two. Devanga is now a fourth year visual communication design student and photographer. She is all about purposeful project - creating things that do good, look good and mean more. She is particularly interested in creative activism through design for service, purpose and positive change.
Anastasia is a recent BA/BCom graduate from the University of Auckland with a strong interest in politics. She shares the strong values which underpin the work of Empower of helping refugee youth within New Zealand. Anastasia is keen to support and promote the work of the organisation by developing and implementing an overall marketing strategy.
Eric is a firm believer in people. He graduated with a BSc in Psychology from the University of Auckland and is currently working as a Doctoral Scholarships Adviser at the University of Auckland. He is originally from Malaysia but has been living in New Zealand for the past 7 years. He enjoys travelling, running, and having deep meaningful conversations with people. He believes that education is the most powerful weapon for changing the world.
Stephanie is an optimist at heart and is always curious about people, she believes that everyone has something interesting and unique to offer, thus is a strong advocate for uncovering, developing and empowering young potentials. She also works as a mentor at MATES and volunteers with people with intellectual disabilities at Rescare - as a long term goal, she hopes to become a Applied Behaviour Analyst.
Marina is concerned with the social isolation that contemporary society creates. Through coummunity involvement, she works towards social connectedness so that everyday people are empowered to contribute to the success of their communities. Youth education is a cause close to her heart.
Aaron is a software engineer who enjoys using photography as a creative outlet and strives to do meaningful work. He is an advocate for personal development and believes that it begins when we are empowered as youth.
Daughter of a former Cambodian refugee, Leanne has witnessed first-hand the difficulties of resettling to a foreign country. She therefore wishes to help other refugee background individuals overcome resettlement struggles and to empower them to reach their full potential. With a conjoint degree in Marketing and Public Relations, Leanne hopes to create and share stories that can impact meaningful change in the world.
Vaash is originally from Fiji and has been living in New Zealand for the past 9 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Auckland and is currently working at a law firm in Auckland. She was previously a mentor with Empower before joining the wider team. She is passionate about gender and racial equality, LGBTQI+ rights, and raising mental health awareness.