Thursday, May 28, 2020
Cover Story

COVERSTORY - Rochelle Prasad: International Volunteer

By Petrina D’Souza, 30 Jan, 2019

    "I plan on travelling to countries all across the world to expand Camp We Empower. [I plan on] doubling the impact I have made in 2018 in my community. I plan on giving back twice as much as this year and thriving harder than I have ever done before.” 



    Global volunteer, youth empowerment advocate, role model, young entrepreneur, social activist, motivational speaker, academic achiever, and passionate educator – these are few among the many roles Rochelle Prasad plays in her life. All of 20 years old, the Simon Fraser University student has been diligently doing her bit for the world and humanity by volunteering locally and internationally, building schools and educating children, co-founding youth-focussed organizations, and inspiring others through her work and writing. “I have been fortunate to live out my passion for the next generation by giving back in several ways,” says Rochelle, a third year student double majoring in education and political sciences and working part-time with the City of Surrey as a youth events and youth engagement worker.

    “Ever since a young age, it has been engraved in me that giving back to our community is not a want, it is a need,” shares Rochelle, about her interest in community service. The 2017 Soroptimist International Women’s awardee asserts that it is our civic duty as citizens to give back and lend a helping hand in our society. Her interest in volunteering, especially youth engagement, was sparked after the realization that, “if we do not support our youth and leaders of tomorrow today, our world will become a dark place.”

    Global service plays a huge part in Rochelle’s life. Since the past few years, she has travelled to various countries to learn, serve and empower the next generation by building, educating and mentoring people from all over the world. Her first overseas trip was to Ecuador at the age of 14 with WE Charity (now called Free the Children). Twenty youth from all across Canada lodged in the rural places of Ecuador with the mission to complete a school building project, and to help design and teach a few English classes.

    In 2018, Rochelle did two global trips: to Kenya and Fiji Islands. In May, she ventured off to Narok, Kenya, with the same charity along with 24 other young members. “I was tenting alongside wild animals, with no bathrooms or running water. We were forced to adapt to a rugged lifestyle, all while learning the culture, and falling in love with the children in Narok,” informs the young activist. From making her own meals and facing her fear of large insects to working on a construction site for eight hours a day for two weeks, the global volunteer reveals that the trip was filled with some challenging moments but she left “with a full heart knowing that what my team members and I accomplished in Kenya was even greater than us.”

    In August, Rochelle along with her family took a trip back to their mother land: the Fiji Islands. “Our goal was to help a local orphanage in the town of Suva,” mentions Rochelle. For the weeks that the family was there, they interacted with the locals, gave food to as many people they could, and provided educational tools to a lot of young people. They even got the attention of the Minister of Youth and Sports and the United Nations, who then organized a tour for Rochelle to speak at different universities in Fiji about her home, Canada, and the importance of giving back. “I will never forget the connections we made in Fiji, and the places we stepped foot into, and left out of with grace,” shares Rochelle who defines volunteering and community service as giving back with no hidden agenda and purely with a passionate heart. 

    Rochelle is a proud founder of Camp We Empower, a youth for youth non-profit that profit provides fun, educational workshops for students all around Surrey and worldwide. Its goal is to empower the next generation through their mini/mega series workshops, community 101 action projects and education empowers students/ teachers program. “We believe in the next generation like no tomorrow, and serve as resources for them,” says the recipient of the 2018 Canada 150 award in Leadership. Rochelle has also co-founded two other organizations: the Surrey Youth Safety Council and Surrey Team for Youth Leadership and Engagement, and was one among Surrey Board of Trade’s Top 25 Under 25 in 2018. .

    With writing being one of her main hobbies, Rochelle is also an author and has penned Because We Can, a short novel that encompasses empowerment. “The book has some how now turned into an educational toolkit for all ages on how to take action for a better world, starting with themselves,” points out Rochelle dedicating the book to the youth in Surrey.

    This year, Rochelle’s plan includes travelling, doubling and thriving. She elaborates the three main goals: “I plan on travelling to countries all across the world to expand Camp We Empower. The world needs more empowered young leaders, and my team and I are ready to make that a reality. [I plan on] doubling the impact I have made in 2018 in my community. I plan on giving back twice as much as this year and thriving harder than I have ever done before.”

    What is your advice for those who wish to follow your path?

    Create your own unique, positive path. Be your own person, love your self, and trust yourself. Thrive and conquer the world. There is no limit to creativity, so go crazy, be authentic and be prepared for the long journey ahead of you. 

    Who are your role models?

    Hands down these two awesome people: Craig Kielburger, CEO and founder of WE Charity, and the one and only, momma Prasad. 

    What inspires you to do better each day?

    My community, and the generations to come. Also, knowing that there is so much to get done, and that if I do not take action for a better community, or even for a better world, no one else will. It all starts with oneself. 

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