Volunteer teaches about humanitarian issues around the world

Some of our volunteers have been with us since they were young. Let me introduce you to Bernadette Maheandiran from Toronto. She’s one of them.

Bernadette started teaching youth about humanitarian issues when she was 15 years-old.  Now 27 and a lawyer, she uses her knowledge and expertise to teach others about International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Last year, she was one of two representatives from Canada to attend an international Red Cross conference in Oslo, Norway on the subject.

She is also a current member of the Ontario Zone International Advisory Committee and continues to engage youth by organizing leadership conferences as an adult advisor. 

Her work with youth over the years has impacted her more ways that she can count. An example of this was one time when she was presenting a workshop about landmines at a high school. She led a game in which one of the participants was blindfolded and their partner tried to get them across an imaginary mine field. In the midst of the game, one of the students took off her blindfold and left the classroom visibly upset. Bernadette spoke with the student afterwards and found out she was from Cambodia and grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand.

“She always wanted to go back home and see where her parents were from,” says Bernadette. “She realized then it wouldn’t be the same, and she wouldn’t be able to walk in the same areas her parents did.”

Moved by the workshop and what she experienced, the student organized a landmines event at her school – something that Bernadette has never forgotten.

“Red cross keeps giving you these moments to inspire and be inspired in return, which is why I like volunteering for the organization,” she says.

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