12 Aug 2015

Help floods in for Kiwi intern in Geneva

6:05 pm on 12 August 2015

A Kiwi hired as an unpaid intern by the United Nations in Geneva has been overwhelmed with offers of help after it emerged he was living in a tent as he could not afford accommodation.

David Hyde outside his tent.

David Hyde outside his tent. Photo: Geneva Tribune

Geneva's Tribune newspaper said Christchurch man David Hyde had been sleeping on a patch of ground overlooking Lake Geneva not far from the UN Beach Club, where more affluent staff sunbathed and sipped cocktails at the bar.

The newspaper described Mr Hyde's efforts to cope with a torrential rainstorm, climbing out of his sodden tent dressed in a suit and heading off to his unpaid job.

It said he was assessing whether he would be able to complete the six-month internship, which offers no remuneration, health benefits or transport allowance.

"I was perhaps a little naive in coming here but this political situation makes me so angry. If I leave now, before the end of the internship, I won't receive my cetificate."

Following the publication of the story, the newspaper received dozens of emails and social media comments from local Geneva residents offering David accommodation and even a bicycle.

Some even went looking for Mr Hyde in parks throughout the city to ensure that he would not have to spend another night outside.

Mr Hyde, speaking to the Geneva Tribune, said he was overwhelmed by their generosity.

"All of these messages of support - it's incredible. I certainly wasn't trying to make people feel sorry for me, or offer me accommodation," he said.

"I just hope that my experience can help improve things for other interns."

Flooded with offers of help, he has chosen to make contact with New Zealand expats working in international organisations in Geneva.

The Tribune reported that for the rest of his time in Geneva, he would have a roof over his head.