ONGOLE: Gaddam Meghana (18), a Non-Resident Indian teenager became the first Indian-Telugu origin youth to get elected as New Zealand’s Youth Parliament member representing Waikato Parliament segment in the country. With the prestigious achievement, she became one of the youth icons of the country.
Around 21 years ago, Gaddam Ravikumar, Meghana’s father, went to New Zealand along with his wife and got settled in Waikato as a real estate businessman. Meghana was born and brought up in New Zealand, and she has recently completed her ‘International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme’ (IBDP) from St Peter’s, Cambridge, in New Zealand. Since her childhood Meghana was a clever student and was a successful class head too.
Speaking to TNIE, Meghana said: “I used to take part in various social service initiatives when I was in my schooling and continued doing it as I progressed in my education. I, along with my friends, used to take up various social service activities to support orphans and children from refugee camps, who migrated from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. We used to raise funds for the orphanages. My exposure to social service was recognised by the New Zealand government and I was nominated as member of Youth Parliament from Waikato.”
In the New Zealand parliamentary system, there are as many as 120 Members of Parliament (MPs), elected by the people. Each MP will work in association with a nominated Youth Parliament member, who will assist the former in dealing with issues related to youths and their welfare in parliament.
Meghana is one such Youth Parliament member who will work with Waikato’s MP Tim van de Molen in the New Zealand Parliament.
“As of now, assuring shelter for everyone has become a major issue in the country. Owing to the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions, many lost their livelihood and the poor could hardly find any shelter in the country. I am going to raise the issue in my first parliament session and I will participate in legislative debates and select committee discussions. The government will make note of our debates and will act accordingly. I am eagerly waiting for the parliament sessions,” the youngster said.
Though born and brought up in New Zealand, she hasn’t forgotten her roots. Meghana, along with her parents have been visiting their native place, Tangutur, every year. She was taught Telugu culture, traditions and customs. Accustomed to the Telugu cutlure, Meghana participates in most of the cultural and traditional celebrations with utmost love and respect.
“Due to Covid, we couldn’t visit our native place in the last two years. However, on the occasion of Sankranti, we met our family members and relatives. Meghana enjoyed the trip a lot,” Meghana’s parents said. During their short stay for Sankranti, Meghana’s family visited an orphanage in Chimakurthy mandal run by Mother Theresa Society. Impressed by the NGO’s services, the family donated `2.6 lakh to the orphanage.
“Nothing is impossible for a strong-willed person, if he/she is determined to do their best to achieve their goals in life,” the New Zealand Youth Parliamentarian opined.