Sasja Mazurkiewicz

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Hey Sasja! We love that you are one of Prepair’s incredible supporters. You are a talented creative mind and all about social change.
Can you tell us how you first connected with Prepair?

I first heard about Prepair NZ when I was part of the team at TEDxWellington. Irene’s mission inspired me, I introduced myself at the after party and we caught up for a coffee the next week.

What we thought was a simple catch up quickly turned into our first project. Within the first week of meeting, we ran a 20-person ‘Design Sprint’ workshop to come up with ideas for Prepair NZ.

I told Irene about the ‘Design Thinking’ process and how it could help her to better understand her girls and make strategic decisions. Our first catch up was over 2 years ago, since then I’ve run workshops, led two major research projects, taken part in a 5-day sprint and more. Our collaboration keeps growing regardless of distance. That’s the beauty of our relationship.

Prepair reaches a number of young women who are in a very important stage of their lives, where they are navigating themselves and relationships.
How do you think Prepair benefits you and the wider audience?

When I think back to high school, we barely even had proper sex education classes. We were taught about one part of being in a relationship, but nothing about the other parts; such as what health relationships looks like, how to see the signs of abuse, and how to love ourselves before loving anyone else. It should be deeply embedded into our education system. Prepair fills that gap.

Personally, Prepair benefits me in so many ways. It has given me a community of amazing women to learn from, a platform to hear the real-life stories of New Zealand, and it has taught me about where I want to steer my work.

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There are so many organisational charities in Aotearoa. Why do you choose to support Prepair?

I’ve always been integrated into the Wellington community; volunteering, helping out, building connections. I made a promise to myself that I would not burn myself out and decided to choose on organisation to focus on. The decision to work with Prepair was easy.

Prepair is something my friends and I needed growing up. I still hear similar comments today from people of all ages. I’ve always been interested in working with younger people, as the challenges they are hit with are very similar to the challenges I had when I was younger.

Prepair is focused on values, and values are things that make me feel the most ‘me’. Creativity, environment and connections are all important values that I being into all aspects of my life. Values help me make important decisions, it’s not always easy but it is obvious when I’ve made a wrong turn, because I see myself drifting from my values that are so core to me. Prepair helps to share the importance of values and why we should all follow them.

Prepair’s culture is formed by strong wahine who are hungry for social change.
What kind of work do you do for Prepair, and what is it like working in this culture?

The work I do takes on many forms. I help Irene with the fun type of research and design work. The research we do is collaborative and inclusive, most of our work involves talking with our girls one-on-one to understand their motivations, experiences, and perspectives. By hearing our girls’ stories we start to understand their involvement with Prepair and how we can evolve to continue to help them.

I’ve learnt so much from the girls I’ve worked with at Prepair. We’re a sisterhood where everyone brings their own skills, experiences and individuality. I love that we are always kind and supportive of each other. I’ve played the role of the mentor as well as the student. I am constantly learning as well as teaching.

We manage to get so much done in a 2-hour workshop, as there’s no hidden agenda, hierarchy, and no one telling us how we should and shouldn’t do the work. The difference about volunteer work is we bring our whole selves to the work. The fact that you’ll sometimes find Irene’s baby being passed around during a workshop, whilst tackling one of NZ’s biggest challenges, is complete goals to me.

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Prepair’s goal is to support women in how they value themselves, and navigate relationships.
What impact do you see Prepair making and why is it so important?

I’ve seen Prepair grow from a seedling into a blossoming flower in the space of 2 years, and during that time I have seen and heard first-hand the amazing stories of how Prepair impacts some of our young women.

We ran a research project to better understand our girls and conducted face-to-face interviews where we asked our girls about their relationships, self-love and emotional abuse. Some of the conversations weren’t easy, but they’re conversations that need to be heard in order to know how we can help.

Young women are so inspiring when we give them a chance to speak and be heard in a safe and accepting environment. Young women today have challenges, and new challenges too, compared to when I was in high school, but they’re brave, beautiful and determined to shape their own path.

Working for Prepair is the most rewarding work I have done yet. I’ve heard the real-life stories of amazing women all over Aotearoa, and I know the content, workshops and tools we develop because of their experience is helping and educating young women going into their first relationships, and learning how to love themselves.

Finally, what do you want to see for the next generation of women?

In an ideal world, the next generation of women don’t need to regain their strength, because their strength was never taken away from them in the first place.

But as humans, we’re problem solvers, there will always be problems we find and want to fix - and I see technology playing a massive part in affecting the next generation of women. It has shaped humanity, and with the rise of Instagram, we’re already starting to see new problems, and the next generation will be affected by it the most.

Bronte Stevenson