When Ayesha Lutschini first began volunteering with The Oaktree Foundation in 2007, she was 16 years old.
“When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, I saw myself as someone who would standup for those who couldn’t do this themselves. As I got older I soon realized that my greatest passion was people and at 16 I wanted to help make a difference but had no idea how to begin. Thats where the Oaktree Foundation comes in. I was getting ready for school one morning in 2007 and saw an advertisement on TV for the 2007 Make Poverty History Roadtrip, so I applied and received positive confirmation.”
Born and raised in Papua New Guinea, Ayesha’s commitment to social justice is inspired directly from the environment from which she grew up, “understanding the levels of violence first hand was more then enough for me to want to create positive and lasting change … it afforded me the opportunity to grow into a socially conscious being and further develop a passion for social justice”.
With the incredible experience volunteering on campaigns with the Oaktree Foundation, Ayesha felt encouraged to develop a program that would be able to help people in the communities which she had known growing up. “During the numerous campaigns I assisted with at The Oaktree Foundation the Visible Ink space was always available to help us”, and outside the usual haunts of living rooms and university meeting spots, Visible Ink was a natural connection, “and of course the Visible Ink team immediately put up their hands up to assist us”.
Forming a team with university friends Tasman and Courtney, fellow attendees of the 2013 Harvard World Model United Nations, the group started developing a campaign centered on overcoming the inaccessibility and invisibility of contact information for emergency services. The team were awarded a Resolution Fellowship through a successful application to Resolution Project Social Venture Challenge, and this project would become the first campaign for their new organisation ‘Meri Toksave’. Meri Toksave worked on the creation of a countrywide ‘Directory of Emergency Services for Those Affected by Family and Sexual Violence’ in 2013 and they will see the product of their labour distributed throughout this coming year.
Now in its second year of operation, Meri Toksave is currently in the process of a recruiting drive “to expand our small but awesome team into a bigger group of young, passionate change makers”. They are also busy translating the Directory into the official lanugage of Papua New Guinea, Tok-Pisin, which should help see a greater distribution and access to popular mediums of media.
“What I love most about my work with Meri Toksave is having the opportunity to work with other young people in Papua New Guinea and Australia who are passionate and determined in their efforts to leave a better world and their own legacy behind.”
While working as the Co-founder, Sponsorship Manager, Partnership Manager and Director of Meri Toksave, Ayesha still somehow finds the downtime to “watch horrible reality tv shows, plan my wedding, attend Model United Nations conferences or spend time with my loved ones”. She’s also manages to find the time to consider some pretty sage advice:
“If you know me, you know I harp on about this quote quite often, however I truly believe that ‘young people are not just tomorrow’s leaders, we are today’s partners’. I remember always saying ‘when I grow up I want to’…but in actual fact I realised through my volunteer work that I don’t need to grow up, have a degree, be the most financially secure or resourceful individual in order to create change. All I need is passion and the willingness to put that passion into action. So my advice to young people wanting to get into the social justice or non-for-profit sector is to literally get amongst it, you don’t have to wait to grow up because you can create real and tangible change today.”
You too can get involved with Meri Toksave or participate in many rewarding social justice projects, and Ayesha says it’s easy, “don’t be overwhelmed by your lack of experience or doubt your ability to do great things… be open and willing to learn knowing that you will make mistakes along the way and that is perfect because mistakes, if you let them, help make you better.”