HOST International has been fortunate in sourcing three talented volunteers to continue the work in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Jakarta. Meet our new Candlelighters: Marleen, Mereani, and Matilda.

Meet Marleen

Marleen is based in Kuala Lumpur with local NGO, Payong that works with refugees in the areas of education, enterprise and empowerment. She will be working with the Community Self-Reliance (CSR) Programme, which is a partnership with UNHCR that offers small grants to community-based organisations that allows them to start up projects that support livelihood capacities.

Marleen is originally from Amsterdam, Netherlands. After finishing her bachelors degree, she moved to Ireland to enrol in the masters programme International Human Rights Law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Shortly after, she started working for Humanity House in the Hague, which is a museum and platform that organises programmes on international crises and refugee issues. Throughout her career she has travelled and lived in different countries to experience not-for profit work in other regions.”

“What drives me most is the impact that the CSR programme will generate within the refugee communities. I expect to have a lot of direct contact with refugees and their communities who are as enthusiastic as I am to be a part of the community self-reliance programme.”


Marleen will be assisting Payong throughout the implementation of the programme in the form of site visits, reporting, researching on sustainability of projects, monitoring and evaluation strategies and developing the contents of the programme.

Meet Matilda

Matilda is based in Bangkok with HOST Thailand. Her role is Livelihoods Project Coordinator, which includes looking at ways to improve people’s livelihoods whilst they are currently displaced and awaiting third country settlement. It will include meeting with individuals we are already working with, as well as organisations that support them and discussing ways we could increase their livelihoods.

“If Thailand is anything like my Nauru experience I know that I will always get more out of the project then I am able to give!
With that in mind, I am looking forward to working with a new group of individuals in Thailand and hearing about their experiences and circumstances.
Hopefully I will be able to support individuals to increase their livelihoods, in whatever way is most helpful, achievable and rewarding to them.”

Matilda recently wrapped up her role as a team leader for HOST International in Nauru. She has worked in the refugee/asylum seeker space for the past six years, both overseas and within Australia. The majority of this has been front line work and included working in detention centres, community detention and also with people in the community. She has also worked in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, providing counselling and case management services to young Indigenous people.

Meet Mereani

Mereani is based at Jakarta at the Roshan Learning Centre, where she will be developing the GED project structures, framework and helping refugee students to complete the GED test in Cisarua, West Java.

What’s the GED?

The GED qualification is a US High School Diploma equivalency credential which can be used in Indonesia. It is the only higher secondary certificate available in over 85 countries and accepted by nearly all universities in the US and many across the world. The GED diploma is internationally recognised and would allow local Indonesians and refugees the opportunity to obtain credentials to continue their studies at universities.

“Through this pathway, we would be able to work with other stakeholders to influence the government of Indonesia to review their education and employment policy and allow refugees to attend school and access employment. It would be ideal to gain further sustainable funding to expand the GED Program across the whole of Indonesia.”

Mereani was most recently the learning and training coordinator for HOST International headquarters in Sydney. Prior to that, she was the employment manager for HOST International in Nauru and was an offshore coordinator for an AUSAid project that was delivered in the Pacific.

HOST International’s CandleLighters programme is designed to provide development opportunities to volunteers by supporting them on assignments overseas. We believe that effective community integration of refugees requires the support of the host community and most communities need assistance for this to occur.

If you are interested in donating to the CandleLighters programme, please contact us.