Our mission in Auckland - New Zealand

Auckland is a city of volcanoes, with the ridges of lava flows forming its main thoroughfares and its many cones providing islands of green within the sea of suburbs. As well as being by far the largest of New Zealand’s cities, it is also the most multicultural. A sizable Asian community rubs shoulders with the biggest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
 
In 2010, the population of Auckland, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, was made up of 188 ethnic groups, making it New Zealand’s most diverse city. Auckland is a centre for education, commerce and employment. It is expected to keep increasing as more people settle in the region and as more migrants settle here from other parts of New Zealand, as well as from overseas..
 
The establishment of the Auckland Super City in November 2010 represented a huge shift in Local Government in New Zealand. The merger of seven local council means that 35% of New Zealand voters are represented by one Mayor.
Health and disability services in New Zealand are delivered by a complex network of organisations and people. Each has its role in working with others across the system to achieve better health for New Zealanders. Important roles in providing and ensuring efficiency and quality are undertaken by the public health unit, primary health organisation, and non-governmental organisations. 
 
The Little Sisters are in both Papatoetoe and Otara. 
Papatoetoe is a suburb in the Auckland conurbation in northern New Zealand, one of the largest suburbs of the area commonly known as South Auckland. People have lived in the Papatoetoe area for almost the entire time of human settlement in New Zealand
The area’s main population growth occurred after World War II when many returning service personnel received housing there. The population has a median age of 31, with 34% being NZ European, 33% Asians, 26% Pacific Island and 16% Maori.
Otara is situated 18 kilometres to the southeast of Auckland. Otara means "the place of Tara" or "territory belongs to Tara", a "Rangatira" (or Maori Chief) of the area. Otara in turn is the shortened form of Te Puke Otara (literally "The Hill of Tara"). European settlement of Otara began in earnest from the 1860s onwards, most of the settlers being Scottish and Irish Presbyterians. 
After the second world war Otara was developed as a state housing area and is noted for its proportion of Pacific Island residents, who make up 68% of the Otara population. Otara long had some of the highest crime rates of the country, but recently there has been an increase in police force numbers in the area and this, combined with a community policing approach, has been reducing crime and also establishing a less hostile attitude between the locals and the police.
 
Mission of the Little Sisters in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  
Sisters Veronica Hackett and Barbara Gibbs live in Petone and Upper Hutt, Wellington. Both of them are sharing and living out our Chrism with the people of those areas.
Barbara, among other things, supports some elderly people and those with terminal illness – by visits to people either in their home or in a rest home/hospital, or accompanying people for shopping or to appointments with a doctor. Barbara also been helping and supporting one young mother – she has a two-year-old child and was pregnant again; she needed lots of support emotionally as she has lost two babies in the last two years. Now she has given birth to a healthy baby boy, but is still very anxious and in need of lots of support and reassurance.
Veronica shares briefly with us about a Christian meditation group that meets weekly in her house from 7 – 8 pm. She writes: "The initiative for this project came from our parish priest, who arranged for us to have talks on the subject, before appointing a co-ordinator to oversee the group and to provide us with resources. The response was enthusiastic and, before long, five groups were established. Meditation is not something new to the Christian experience, but is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition of prayer. The revival of this method of prayer came from the English monk, John Main O.S.B. After his death, Lawrence Freeman O.S.B became the director of the World community for Christian Meditation. He travels around the world giving meditation retreats etc. The silent meditation period is the focal point and main purpose of the meeting and, through it, many people discover a deeper sense of the presence of Christ in their lives and recognise the seeds of contemplation within themselves."
 
Srs Manusiu and Leiola – Otara 
Leiola is working as a volunteer at the Otara C.A.B (citizen advice bureau) and she writes: 
Citizen Advice Bureau Otara (Te Pou Whakawhirinaki o Aotearoa) Who are we? We are a voluntary community agency providing information and advice so as to support our communities and this in 91 locations in Aotearoa (New Zealand), from the far North down to Invercargill in the deep South.
Otara is one of 5 bureaux in the legacy of Manukau Council, now part of Auckland Council (Super City) with 6 bureau clusters across Auckland. Otara is part of the South Cluster. We are an incorporated Society affiliated to our national organisation. The aim is to ensure that individuals do not suffer through ignorance of their rights or of the services available, locally and nationally. The service therefore provides to all individuals, free of charge, impartial and confidential information, guidance and support services, and makes responsible use of the experience so gained.
 
There is no cure for OSA, but CPAP is the only treatment. CPAP has lots of benefits such as those indicated below:
It improves a patient’s oxygen levels by keeping the airway open.
It normalises the individual’s blood pressure by preventing the blood pressure from rising during the night because of failure to breathe.
It has been shown to help stabilise other diseases, e.g. blood sugar reduction in diabetes, reduction of uric acid in Gout, help with blood circulation at night, thus reducing the possibilities of heart attacks and strokes, and help in controlling heart failure. 
 
As a community health worker, I set people up on a CPAP and tell them how to use it, including the different functional keys, the placement and position of the CPAP, how to clean the CPAP and all its parts.
 
I also do clinics. These include annual service clinics where we check to see if they are using their CPAP adequately and change their CPAP so we know that it’s always in good working condition. We have a walk-in clinic where patients are allowed to come in without booking an appointment if there is any part of the CPAP or mask that is broken etc., and we replace these. There is no cost attached to any of our services. My role also includes stocktaking, ordering sleep products and sometimes home visits to patients. We attend regular teaching sessions and conferences and in that way we keep up to date with new research and new products. 
 
Sisters Alapina and Eleni - Papatoetoe
 
I would like to share briefly with you all the experience I have had for the past 2 years of looking after my mum who was battling with the pain and difficulty of living her life till the end with Alzheimer. But firstly, I would like to thank the Congregation and my Sisters for allowing me the opportunity to take care of mum whom God called to be with Him on the 1 July 2011. Thanks for your prayers and support. It was very hard to watch mum change because of her illness. It wasn’t easy to cope with the fact that she did not know who we were. Every day I tried to tell her stories of the past although she could not remember anything but she was determined to remember. I had time to share with dad some of the difficult moments and, with all the sharing and dialogue we had, it made us all stronger and we accepted everything through times of prayer and deep faith in God. Dad, my nephew, Michael and I have experienced a sense of true closeness throughout mum’s illness. Our prayer and trust in God helped us to accept all and offer them all up for mum. Thank you to all the Sisters for your prayers and support. 
Alapina 
 
Refugees/Migrants
This commitment is in line with the message from our General Chapter, and especially because the demand is so great for workers to help the newly-arrived refugees in New Zealand. I was told that there was a 6-week training programme and I was given the choice to do it or not because of my past experience of working with the refugees in Hamilton. I felt it was good to do the Training Programme because things have changed so much and I needed to update my knowledge of different agencies and organisations. I found the training very helpful and informative. It was good to know the different agencies, so building contacts with organisations. It was an excellent networking experience with people. The programme equips workers with the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to provide newly-arrived refugees with practical support, advocacy and friendship during the initial six months of their resettlement.
 
Refugee Services (Auckland) 
Auckland is the leading refugee resettlement agency in New Zealand. Since it began in 1976 it has supported over 40,000 refugees in building new lives in their new country. The services give support to refugees, building on their strengths and empowering them to become independent, fully contributing members of their new communities. Former refugees can be found in every walk of life, making a wonderful contribution to the social, cultural and economic fabric of the increasingly multicultural society in New Zealand. 
 
There are two pathways by which refugees find their way to NZ. The first is a quota agreement with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The second is by way of an onshore claim to refugee status made after arrival in NZ. The status is then confirmed under conventions. Each year NZ accepts 750 refugees as a part of an agreement with the UNHCR, whereby their status has been ‘mandated’ or authenticated by the UNHCR. NZ is one of the fewer than 20 countries to offer a resettlement programme and has done so for more than 20 years.
 
After training and an acceptance interview, each worker is placed in small team of three and introduced to a refugee family. Our team was given a family from Burma. The first task for us was to make sure that their house (given by Housing New Zealand) was fit to be lived in. The three of us got busy, looking for furniture (beds, sofa, chairs, dining table and chairs). The St Vincent de Paul shop supplied us with curtains for the house, plates/cups and everything needed for the kitchen. The family received a resettlement grant for a washing machine and for a fridge.
The feast of St Andrew (last year) was the day that we (team) were to pick up the family (parents and two girls, 9 and 4) from the Refugee Centre, Magere, and take them to their new house. When we arrived at the Centre we were told that we could not go to the house until after 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The family were a bit disappointed because most families in the Centre had already gone and they were excited and looking forward to going to their new home. 
 
I realised that we would have about 4 hours to wait and, as our house in Papatoetoe is the nearest place to the Centre, I felt it was the best option for us to go there until it was time to go to the house. We managed some lunch and had some time for the family to relax. Both parents were happy to share with us something about themselves and where they came from. The girls were so happy, running around outside and enjoying the garden. It took us about 20-30 mins to get to their house and it was a great joy for the family to have a place to call home. We checked whether they had electricity and food and all that they needed for the night. We said goodbye and left behind a very happy family.
 
For the next 3 weeks the three of us worked with the family, helping them to know the area, to find out where to get the bus, and where the supermarket and the Doctor/Medical Centre were. The nine-year-old girl was introduced to her school and it was good for the whole family to meet the teachers and to have some time to find out about the school. The four-year-old also was happy to go to the Kindergarten. Both parents attended English classes at a special class for Refugees. It was an opportunity to meet up with some other Refugees and especially some people from Burma. The family gradually found their way around the area, made new friends and were happy to explore and learn more about their new neighbourhood.
 
After 6 months there was an evaluation session for both the team and workers and also for the family.
The family expressed their gratitude and appreciation of what had been done for them. I will continue to support and help the family, especially with transportation to medical and hospital appointments. Last month I was given the news of the new addition to the family, due to arrive in September. It is a joy for them to have a little "kiwi" in the family. Soon we will start to collect things for the baby. 
 
To finish off I came across this (sentence) by Simone Weil who said, “To be rooted in a place is perhaps the most important need of the human soul”.
 
Eleni
23/07/2012
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