Palmerston North volunteer to set foot in Jordan and help refugees
A Palmerston North woman is putting down her culinary tools in New Zealand to feed, clothe and house displaced refugees overseas.
Zoe Dekker, 25, was restless in her job as a chef.
She was used to serving up food to everyday Kiwis. But a photograph made her realise there were others out there, without food, who she could be helping instead.
The inspiring picture was of an injured Syrian boy sitting in an ambulance after an airstrike destroyed the buildings around him.
"It made me want to go over there and just help."
So Dekker did. She previously volunteered helping displaced people in Lesbos, Greece, and saw firsthand what "inhumane" conditions refugees were living in.
Refugees there were "treated like animals" and there was a lack of dignity and humanity at the camps.
There was a lack of basic items like nappies and sanitary products, and a lot of frustration and discontent, she said.
During her stay, there were riots, rapes, and on one occasion, a fire which resulted in deaths.
Dekker returned to New Zealand after her time in Greece. However, there was more she wanted to do.
Dekker is now heading to Amman in Jordan, for at least a month to provide aid to Syrian refugees.
She will head off on her mission in September, alongside three other New Zealanders.
However, Dekker was first completing a 100 kilometre walk in about 28 hours, with her father Paul Dekker, to fundraise money for refugee support.
The father-daughter duo aim to start their walk from Palmerston North on August 25.
A Givealittle page has been set up to fundraise money which would go directly towards buying food, water, clothes, nappies and supplied needed for the refugees, she said.
Dekker said she was passionate about seeing money raised go directly to the refugees in need, rather than being whittled down by the small fees non-governmental organisations had to pay, such as staff and administration costs.
She also wanted to help displaced Syrian women, and had been learning Arabic to be able to speak to them directly.