'I wish i had your skills then i would volunteer too'

'I wish i had your skills then i would volunteer too'
To this I say: If you can hand a thirsty person some water, If you can give a blanket to someone that is cold, If you can hold someone and console them while they are grieving or feed someone that is hungry...then you can volunteer anywhere.
Do this without discrimination of Race or Religion..then that is Humanity.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Darwin Greek Community International Women's Day Event

My speech which was read out on my behalf for the Darwin Greek Community International Women's Day Event 2019:

How do you know if you inspire people?
Or that you inspire change?

For me it was visiting Darwin for a wedding and I was standing outside the Greek church and a young Greek girl approached me and asked me if I was ‘that nurse and paramedic that was on the tv and in the newspaper’.  When I replied ‘yes’ her eyes lit up and she said, ‘I want to be just like you and be a Nurse and a paramedic and help people around the world’.

It was coming up the escalators in casuarina on a Friday night and having a woman stop me and say ‘I have been following what you do, and I think you are amazing, my daughter wants to become a nurse too, and I showed her the articles and the work you have done.  She will have to go away for her training and I will miss her but if that is what she wants then she has to go.’

Something I have learnt is that if you change a girl’s thought process, and you encourage her so that she believes that she CAN, then she WILL succeed.

I want you to look at the women sitting on the panel today and I want you to celebrate them!  They are Business owners, they are Managers, they are Professionals, they are academics, they are mothers and grandmothers and They are ‘change makers’ for the Greek Community of Darwin.

I want you to look around the room at all of the amazing women in our community and I want you to celebrate all of them.  As women we should be boosting each other up and not pulling each other down. 

Choose your tribe!  These are the women in your life that celebrate you and support you and want the best for you.  Surround yourself by YOUR tribe.  I want you to look at the women on the panel again, because these women are MY tribe!  Each woman is someone that I want to aspire to be like, each woman has been an active member in our Greek community and has fought to make changes so that it is much better for all of us to be a part of.

If you are a woman that is sitting on a board or in management in your workplace, then pull a fellow sister up and empower her so she can sit beside you.  Facilitate her so that the difficult journey that you had getting there will not be so difficult for her.  If you see a woman with potential in your workplace then encourage her and guide her, so she can be empowered, and she will succeed.

To any men that may be in the room, we honor and celebrate you too.  You are our fathers, you are our brothers and you are our husbands.  We rely on you to set an example, when you witness bad behavior towards women by the men in our community, stand up and call them on it to change that behavior.  We rely on you to see our potential as women in the workplace or in the community and to mentor us, so as women, we too can sit in a position where our voices can be heard.  We rely on you to raise the young boys in our community to respect us as women so when they become men they will value what we say and what we do.  Women and Men need to work together as ‘change makers’ so that gender equality in our Greek community can be achieved.

The next time you are at the Greek school here in Darwin I want you to take a close look at the children.  There is a little girl that goes to that school that is our future leader of the Greek community, she is our future supreme court judge, she is our future Prime Minister, she is our future Doctor, she is our future CEO of a company, she is our future emergency service personnel, she is our future business owner and she is a future mother.   She is our future and she is waiting to be inspired by you!

My name is Helen Zahos, I am a proud Greek- Australian Territory Woman and I cannot be there to join you, but for this International women’s Day,  I celebrate you all!


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Im off to volunteer where I am really needed.

So you want to head off overseas and volunteer?
Well, before you get too excited here are some tips, things you should know and a few websites to look up before you plan to go:

1) Where should I go?
That is entirely up to you.  Where do you want to go and help?  What are you passionate about?  Would your skills be valuable or of use?  Is it safe? How much will it cost to get there, be accommodated there and cost of immunizations and visas?  These are just some things for you to take into consideration.
It is up to you to research where you want to go.  I can’t tell you that information but have a think about what drives you and where there is a need.  Research where there are reputable organizations that exist there in the area.  Not all organizations need you there to volunteer for months on end, some are happy to have you help for a few weeks.  Don’t expect the organization to pay for your travel, accommodation or food.  Some organizations will cover accommodation, but this is not always the case.
2)  Be affiliated with an organization or group.
Do not be a spontaneous volunteer, especially in a crisis or disaster.  Be affiliated with a group.  If you are after disaster type volunteer work, communicate with an organization early, well before any disaster occurs.  Send in your resume, AHPRA registration details and referees so that you can be processed, and reference checked and then when a disaster occurs you will be on the list ready to go.
One of THE MOST difficult things I dealt with during the refugee crisis was the daily barrage of spontaneous volunteers that would turn up, claiming they were doctors or paramedics and we had no idea who they were or of their credentials, we certainly didn’t have tie to coordinate them all and definitely not to screen them.  Be wary of just turning up into another country unannounced and not part of a group some well meaning volunteers found themselves being arrested I Greece when they were helping with boat arrivals and they were accused of being people smugglers.  During the chaos of disaster, particularly when there are large groups of people and movement, this is when sinister people make their way In.  A man that claimed he was a Doctor stole money from some volunteers when he claimed he needed it to buy equipment urgently for someone who was unwell.  He took off with the money and of course he was not medical. 

3) safety is a priority
One of the concerns for refugees and volunteers were the group known as Golden Dawn, a Neo Nazi group of thugs who went around assaulting people.  This including unsuspecting volunteers including 2 Doctors and a couple of paramedics.  Be wary of the political situation surrounding the event or area that you are volunteering in.  Ignorance is bliss, but in this situation, it can be down right dangerous and plain stupid.

4) Don’t be a Burden
Depending on the situation, don’t be a burden on the group.  Try and be self-sufficient.
Will there be running water and drinking water?
Will there be food available? Not sure? Well have some food with you to be self-sustained.
Look at your equipment that you are taking.  Is there going to be power? What are your sleeping arrangements?
There are so many factors to consider, don’t be the rescuer that needs to be rescued.
Is the organization housing you? Think about giving them a token donation or offer to pay for something because they have had to raise the funds through donations to pay for the accommodations and they could be using that money for medical supplies etc.
5) What training do you need?
 Yes! you need training, depending on where you are going and what you will be doing once there.  The organisation you chose to go with guide you on what is needed, but there are also online training that are interesting and can be helpful, make sure it is from a reputable source.
6) The organization I want to volunteer with is asking for money, is this normal?
 There are a lot of organisations that ask for money or are expensive.  Be aware of what your money is for. 
7) Will the country I am visiting restrict me from travelling to other areas later?
Learn from my mishap, you can read the blog, or just know that if you visit a country such as Iraq, then getting to America is going to be difficult.  I was invited to speak at a Philanthropy conference and found myself stranded and unable to get a visa because of my recent travels.  Some stamps in your passport will raise eyebrows in some countries making it difficult.
 8) Make sure someone knows where you are, register with smart travelerhttps://smartraveller.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand%20%7C%20EX&utm_term=smart%20traveler&utm_content=Smartraveller

Trust me I have had situations where I have been unaccounted for, or an incident like natural disaster or a bombing close by has occurred, and my family was worried.  By registering with smart traveller the Department of Foreign Affairs can keep a track o f where you are supposed to be, and intervene if required.

9) Is the organisation that I am looking at joining registered or well known? has there been any bad press?

Preparation is key:
Have I had the correct immunisations?

Have I learnt about the culture of the country i am going to?
Have I had the right training?
If you don't have acute care, such as Emergency Nursing, paramedics, intensive care then read this article which talks about the negatives of short term volunteer trips and benefits for longer assignments in making a difference and beware of volunteer tourism:
Here are some different volunteer opportunities that aren't just medical related but can still allow you to travel with purpose
Some helpful websites:

Kitrinos Healthcare Greece: https://www.kitrinoshealthcare.org

Australian Volunteers for International Development: https://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/volunteers/Pages/volunteers. aspx
Non-Resident Nepalese Association:  https://www.nrn.org.au/

Questions I have been asked about my TEDx Experience


•             How did the TEDx journey start for you?

It was midnight on the 24 of May 2018 When I received a message through my website and an email, from the organiser Tunteeya Yamaoka who invited me to come and speak at a TEDX event she was organising.  There was already a theme for the talk “creative change’ and she said “ Helen We would like to invite you to talk about your humanitarian work to inspire the Gold Coast community to make a difference’

•             How long did the process take from ‘Whoa to Go’ i.e. from applying to  speak at TEDx to actually delivering your Talk?

Tedx is not something you can apply for you need to be invited, it’s actually considered inappropriate to approach organisers.  So my first contact form the organiser was 24/05 and the actual TEDX talk happened on November 17.  Even though this seems lengthy it still felt like I was rushing at the last minute because you talk changes and evolves so much from the very beginning.

After agreeing to do the Tedx I was given a 2 week deadline to submit a pitch and then another 2 weeks to submit my talk.  These were reviewed to make sure it fit the theme.  Tedx gives the organisers a strict set of guidelines and timeframes to comply by in order for it to be an official TEDx event and all speakers were given deadlines to complete these by. 

•             How big the Red Speaking Dot and did you find it restricting?

The red dot seems big enough but I naturally when I get up and speak prefer to walk around and talk if I know the content, the red dot means you do have to stand still but you need to I guess with so many cameras on you and the space is limited on the stage.  I don’t think it was restricting really I just adapted to it.

•             Did you have access to the stage before the delivery, so that you could visualise yourself delivering the speech?

Yes the night before we did a dress rehearsal with the camera men and the microphone.  With public speaking at an event it is a good idea t look at the venue so you eliminate that stress.  It was only brief and it was my worst nightmare because I actually went blank and forgot my words and was suddenly distracted by the camera crew and audience

•             Did TEDx help with your visuals [slides]?

I created my slides they then went over them, they sent the TEDx logo to add to each slide and helped with a couple of pictures that were generic and I was not sure of copyright etc.  I also had to contact each photographer and photo journalist and get permission for every picture I used.  There is a very strict guideline to follow to keep within the TEDx rules.

•             How many times did you practice you speech before delivering it?

I practiced a lot! And I still made mistake son the night and forgot to say 3 key things that I was supposed to say but I had not notes to read off.  With the lead up I organised my colleagues at work to listen, I organised a NGO of MUMs 4 refugees to hold an afternoon tea, I had the Darwin Business and Professional group at a conference sit in my hotel room and be an audience.  Public speaking is not something that comes naturally to me and I get very nervous and often feel like I’m not conveying what I am meant to be saying or the key message is not coming across

•             Who did you practice with and what was the most helpful feedback you received?

Colleagues, friends, members of organisations, anyone who would listen I would run it by them to see if it made sense, feedback I received was that I tended to look down a lot, that I was rushing some points and needed to slow down, that I needed to change some parts to emphasize the message, that a slide didn’t reflect the message or correlate,

I had one quick session from a lady at bond university who I read the talk to off my paper, it was only the last 10 days that I finally gave the paper up and just spoke to the points and formed it that way because I couldn’t remember how I was reading it and just spoke to the main points and that in the end is how it came together, I was telling stories and the photos on the slides prompted me

•             Did your speaking skills improve as a result to delivering the TEDx Talk

 I think it was a challenge, and the more you get up and speak, the more you improve.  I think it really challenged me, I survived it! And proud that I didn’t forget it completely and go blank but I have gone over it and picked it to bits and found so many faults, so I would say yes it has helped me, has it made me a better speaker?  I think the only thing that will do that for me will be getting up more and more in front of a crowd and speaking.  It was an amazing experience and would love to have the chance to do one again and try and improve the last one.

TEDx Robina - Here is the link:   https://youtu.be/W_elAXlEwuk




I want to go and volunteer as a Nurse overseas

So you want to head off overseas and volunteer? Well, before you get too excited here are some tips, things you should kn...