Last year, we introduced you to our inspiring Board. This year, we're excited to introduce you to the rest of our team. Please join us as we travel across Australia (and occasionally overseas!) to introduce you to our fantastic volunteers.
This week, we’re heading to London to meet Elli Agathocleous, who is originally from Sydney but relocated last year. Elli has been supporting our 2020 #SomethingForSlavery campaign to inspire action to end modern slavery.
Why is volunteering important to you?
I am strong believer that although it takes many to drive resounding change, that movement can start with an individual who makes the decision to act. By volunteering I am making a conscious decision to act for positive change.
What is a trip that changed you and why?
There are two trips!
Visiting Cyprus (where my dad grew up) in 2000 when I was 10 years old. It was the first time that I realised how being away from the distractions of big cities and material items could bring happiness. The village, where my dad's family still live, is a world away from where I grew up in Sydney. The community thrives by sharing what they have - my grandfather, the local butcher, reared animals on his farm, my uncle grows fresh fruit & veggie, my aunties make fresh haloumi, yoghurt and bread. There was no need to ever go to the shops!
The second was a visit to Fiji (where my mum grew up) when I was 15/16 years old. I became acutely aware of how privileged my upbringing had been. We never had to worry about a supply of clean water, having a roof over our head, where our next meal was coming from or having electricity. Coming face to face with the struggles of the local communities, particularly in smaller villages, opened my eyes to the things I took for granted. I was as fascinated with life in Fiji as with my father's village in Cyprus - the simple pleasures in life, spending time with friends & family, sharing stories over good food and appreciating how the ocean sustained the joy & happiness in these communities.
What is something you can't go a day without doing?
I can't go a day without making a to do list. I have hundreds of them - on my phone, written in my diary, on scraps of paper. I don't always get them all done (in fact if you speak to my husband he will definitely tell you I tend to procrastinate a lot!) but I still love writing them because I feel a sense of achievement when I cross items off.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Sydney in the south west suburb of Bexley. I feel so privileged to have lived in this area for most of my life as I was able to observe the cultural make-up of the suburbs in and around Bexley shift from predominately Western Europe heritage to those of Asian heritage. It's multi-cultural Australia at its best.
Which women do you look up to and why?
My grandmothers and mother have been the most influential role models in my life. Each of them have an intricate, unique story of hardship but ultimately triumph. Their ability to overcome everything life has thrown their way is attributed to their hard work, tenacity, resilience and their ability to build strong communities of support. I am particularly in awe of the fact that despite challenges they have continued to deeply care about the wellbeing of those around always choosing to share what they have, even if it isn't much.
Do you have any dreams for Project Didi's work?
I am so excited to be working with Project Didi because it has given me the opportunity to act in accordance with my belief that everyone is entitled to live free of fear and violence. I am optimistic that, with the #SomethingForSlavery campaign, over the next few years we'll be able to inspire action so that more people make conscious consumer choices, either by holding the businesses that they purchase from to account or choosing to support businesses that are paving the way by sourcing from ethical and sustainable pathways.
If you could instantly learn a new skill what would it be?
Speaking a second language. My parents heritage is Tongan, Fijian, Chinese and Cypriot Greek. Unfortunately, as a child I was never disciplined enough to learn any of the languages properly.