The events of last Friday have left us shaken as a nation. Destined to go down in history as one of New Zealand’s darkest days, it is an event that many New Zealanders never thought they would see in this country. That an act of such devastating violence could happen in a nation that has long been recognised for its peaceful, multi-cultural nature has been a shock to many. But here we are. And all that is left to do is address the undercurrents of bias that so many of us never experience, but that whole segments of the population are affected by every day. Now is the time, in the face of blatant bigotry, to come together as a nation and do what us Kiwis do best — help each other with compassion, empathy and understanding. Now is the time to embrace our diverse nature whole-heartedly, to ensure that communities that feel marginalised or threatened are made to feel safe, secure and supported, and to condemn the horrendous acts of an individual by coming together as a collective and showing the world how we will not fall into patterns of racism or fear.
If you’re wondering how you can provide practical aid to the people of Christchurch, here are four things you can be doing to help those affected by Friday’s terrorist attack.
Most people are probably aware of the Givealittle page that was set up on Friday by Victim Support to raise funds for the families of victims — it’s currently sitting at $5,022,781.07 from 67,050 donations. There has also been another page on LaunchGood set up by the New Zealand Islamic Information Centre (NZIIC) where funds raised will also be distributed to victims’ families. MATW Project (Muslims Around The World) has also established a donation page on their website to raise essential funds and the Almanar charitable trust has launched an Emergency Appeal, too.
Donating blood is also an option and you can check your eligibility here. In a recent statement put out by the New Zealand Blood Service, blood stocks are currently healthy.
Get in touch with the Red Cross and see if they need any disaster welfare and support, hospital services or refugee support volunteers. Beyond needing volunteers for immediate support, the Red Cross always needs longer-term volunteers to help former refugees settle into their lives in New Zealand, if you want to make a difference that goes beyond the aftermath of these tragic events, this is a good way to help. Volunteering platform Collaborate has also set up a dedicated line to support those in Christchurch and inform volunteers of opportunities where they are needed. Show your interest by joining the Facebook group they’ve set up.
3.Provide emotional support
The Ministry of Health has released a document outlining the most effective ways to help those suffering after a traumatic event, so spread it around to people you think might be in need. If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress, another option is to call or text 1737 to be connected to a mental healthcare professional who will be there to listen and offer support 24/7. Sending Love NZ is also arranging for cards with messages of love and support to be sent to victims, their families and the community. Simply write a message from the heart and send it to Sending Love, PO Box 90701, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142 — they are working with a coordinator in Christchurch to ensure your messages make it to the people who need them the most. Supporting Our Muslim Community in New Zealand is a Facebook page encouraging Kiwis to share their messages of support, and a national condolence book has also been set up at the National Library on Molesworth Street, Wellington. The Aotearoa Resettled Community Coalition has also set up a number of multi-lingual call lines in Christchurch, run by volunteers. The numbers are: Buda Mohamed – 0223696003 (Somali), Nathan Smith – 02277575912 (English), Kaneshka Mohamed – 0223532504 (Persian and English), Ahmed Osman – 0220191573 (Arabic), Ahsan Aziz – 0224781578 (Urdu/Punjabi/English).
4. Attend a vigil
There are a number of peaceful vigils taking place this week in Auckland. They include one tonight (18th March) at St-Matthew-in-the-City from