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July 2010

Young NZer of year turns focus to poverty

By Cory Miller

In a world where millions live in poverty and cannot provide for the basic necessities of life, hope often seems a distant thing.

Not all is lost, however, when people such as young New Zealand doctor Divya Dhar commit themselves to finding a solution to global poverty.

At the age of 24, Divya has received the 2010 Young New Zealander of the Year award in recognition of her passion and commitment to social justice.

Together with a group of fellow friends and students, Divya established the P3 Foundation in January this year.


Young New Zealander of 2010 Divya Dhar and friends have
set up the P3 Foundation so young people can help end poverty.

P3 stands for peace, prosperity and progress. It focuses on finding solutions to local and international poverty, especially within the Asia Pacific region.

Divya says she felt inspired to create a foundation that uses the “vitality of youth” to eliminate poverty.

P3’s vision is to educate, motivate and inspire youth to help those in poverty to rise up and out of their situation.

“We want to mobilise youth to advocate for a better future,” says Divya.

Acting general manager of P3 Alana Alcock says the success of the foundation lies in its ability to use the enthusiasm and energy of youth to generate the changes needed to break the cycle of poverty.

“Youth are currently an untapped resource in New Zealand,” she says.

While she did the research and planning to create P3, Divya found there was something missing amongst organisations involved in advocating for the poor.

“I did not see anything out there that was run by young people for young people,” she says.

However, Divya felt it was important for there to be such a group, because youth are crucial to pushing social movement.

“It is the young people who have the audacity and the energy to take these projects further,” she says.

In the months since the P3 Foundation was established the support from the community has been great, Alana says. “Everyone, from corporate giants to small schools, has been highly positive about the work we are doing.”

Divya has been amazed to see the support P3 received at the launch of one of its first initiatives, ‘Pay Fairtrade Forward’. As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, on May 14th, P3 encouraged people to go to a café that sells Fairtrade coffee or hot chocolate.

The bought a Fairtrade drink as a gift for the next person. When the next person comes to buy a coffee, they are informed that they already have a Fairtrade one paid for them. The idea was that customers would continue to ‘pay Fairtrade forward’ and buy the next person a Fairtrade drink too.

On the day, more than 200 volunteers went to some 50 locations to share fairtrade with others.

Alana says getting youth involved in the different projects P3 has to offer will teach them to deal with poverty and use these skills in the future.

“We have a responsibility in the developed world to work towards eliminating poverty,” she says. “It is a basic human right to be able to work and to have the money to feed your family. That many go without is intolerable.”

She says education will change people’s thinking and create a new awareness.

“Through education a generation will grow up with a mindset geared towards eliminating poverty that will be carried through to the rest of their lives.”

For more on the P3 Foundation visit www.p3foundation.org.