LCD recently ensured media coverage of the activities of the chairperson of the New Zealand National Youth Refugee Youth Council, Daniel Gamboa.
by BLAKE CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 13:52, June 10 2016
"Daniel Gamboa will speak to government officials and NGOs about the importance of empowering young refugees in Geneva.
Four years ago, Daniel Gamboa arrived in the Hutt Valley as a Colombian refugee, not speaking a word of English.
Now he's on a mission to Geneva representing refugee youth in New Zealand.
After fleeing from violent militias and death threats in his homeland of Colombia a decade ago, Gamboa thought he could start living a normal life in neighbouring Ecuador.
But it wasn't to be.
In Colombia, local rebel groups had been looking for new recruits. Despite not even being a teenager, Gamboa was the sort of person they were looking for - young and male.
His mother owned a successful restaurant, and desperate to see her son was not forced to join the rebels, she ended up paying protection money weekly.
When they knocked on her door one night and asked her to store weapons as well as paying, she refused. The rebels then threatened to kill her son.
The pair fled Columbia for Ecuador that night, where Gamboa's uncle told them they would be safe.
"I was 12. I couldn't understand what was happening," Gamboa said.
"We thought we would be safe [in Ecuador] but we were constantly discriminated [against] because we were Colombian." Ad Feedback
Teachers made Gamboa feel unwelcome in the classroom, while his mother found it hard to find work.
After trying to make life in Ecuador work for six years, it was time to try something else.
So Gamboa and his mother turned to the UNHCR, the United Nations' refugee agency.
They were told they couldn't choose where they were to be resettled.
"We didn't even know where New Zealand was, but they said 'take it or leave it'.
"Later that day I looked up New Zealand and the first thing coming up was the Christchurch earthquake, but I kept on looking and it sounded such a nice place."
They arrived in New Zealand three weeks later.
In the four years since, Gamboa has learnt English, been a pupil and later a bilingual tutor at Naenae College, and started university studies.
He also helped found and is the president of a network for young refugees, the New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council
Gamboa jetted off last Friday for Geneva, where he will speak about the importance of empowering young refugees to a range of foreign ministers and diplomats gathered for the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR).
The ATCR is a meeting of the UNHCR, nations who resettle refugees and relevant NGOs.
Initially Gamboa applied to go along to the NGO event and discuss how to support refugee youth.
"Then some people from the ATCR who know about the youth council came out here and met with me. They wanted me to talk to them too."
- Hutt News
following article appeared in Hutt News (a community newspaper)
Lower Hutt student travels to Geneva to talk about youth refugee empowerment