Last week I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with some New Zealanders doing some amazing work for their communities.
I travelled down to Timaru for a night to provide some added entertainment to the "Speaker's Tour" of the NZer Of The Year Awards and I was made to feel rather insignificant by these inspiring speakers.
I had already heard Sam Johnson, the face of Christchurch's Student Army, tell his story and had already been won over - their cause is, what seems to me, a rare altruistic light amongst a generation of young people who are becoming increasingly self-absorbed. They're next big push for Christchurch and its people is an event called The Concert so get involved if you aren't already.
Joining Sam on the stage was a man on a mission to change one of the country's most notorious suburbs, Flaxmere. Henare O'Keefe is a highly charismatic figure who holds a genuine love for his community and its people and is doing all he can to spread that same mantra to as many of his neighbours as possible. In the process, he's also setting an example for others in New Zealand and his work has even spread to other parts of the country already. Here's a little video on what he's all about:
The other significant speaker I heard and also had the privilege to spend four hours driving with that day was Billy Graham - another man on a mission to change the culture of his hometown. Naenae has been a suburb in steady decline since the 1980s and, like Flaxmere, has garnered a rather undesirable reputation. Billy has gone about changing a community with a dwindling spirit to one that is now on the road to renewal - all through him establishing a boxing gym, one that instills within young men respect, discipline and self-motivation. Besides this he's also no doubt helped the suburb in reducing its crime rate by 30% since the gym's inception.
It's in encountering these people that one sees first hand that people are out in our country actually helping others. With the state of our political climate, it's easy to be cynical about what's being done about our people's futures. But there are people helping and they're not waiting for votes or funding, they're going out and making change happen.
I hope the inspiration I acquired last week can last into my future endeavours and I can do more to help people through my work than I've done in the past.
I hope you guys can feel this inspiration as well and can do your part to help make our awesome country's dark places brought into the light.